Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodies and instability for IT hub in New Year

Goodies and instability for IT hub in New Year
Monday, 31 December , 2007, 12:45
Last Updated: Monday, 31 December , 2007, 12:58

Bangalore: Improved infrastructure, including a new international airport, is something people in India's IT hub can look forward to in the new year. But the prospect of renewed political instability also stares them in the face.

A new international airport is to start functioning next year, seven new underpasses as well as a high-speed rail link project have been planned in the next few years. A swish new superstore has opened recently.

The international airport, 35 km from the city centre, will start from April 2, bringing curtains down on the present HAL (Hindustan Aircraft Ltd) airport.

However, the HAL airport, about 11 km from the city centre, will continue to serve defence and official needs.

The state-run Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is planning to introduce brand new Volvo buses to ferry passengers to and from the airport as many travellers may find taxi fares exorbitant.

One-way taxi fare to the new airport at Devanahalli is likely to be around Rs 1,000 as it is outside the city limits. For those who can afford it, the BMTC is also planning a luxury cab service.

Road connectivity to the new airport is still a major problem. A 'trumpet' expressway interchange that passes over National Highway No 7 (Kanyakumari-Bangalore-Hyderabad up to Agra) to facilitate smooth traffic flow from the city to the airport is yet to be built. Land acquisition for the expressway is caught in legal wrangles.

The civic authorities are planning to build seven underpasses on Bellary Road, one of the busiest roads between the city centre and the periphery and leading to Devanahalli airport.

• Check out our Yearender Special

S. Subramanya, commissioner of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (Greater Bangalore City Corporation), claims these underpasses can be built in three days, as pre-cast materials will be used.

"The pre-cast materials can bear up to 120 tonnes weight and are faster to implement besides bringing down the cost considerably," he told reporters recently. Denmark, Germany and some other countries have used pre-cast technology and built underpasses, he says.

The state administration headed by Governor Rameshwar Thakur, (Karnataka is under President's Rule now) also approved in the last week of December a Rs 37 billion high-speed rail link project to Devanahalli from the city centre.

The rail link, when completed by 2011, will mean just a 25-minute journey to the airport from the city centre.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (DMRC) has prepared a detailed project report, which was approved by the Thakur-led administration. Tenders for the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) project will be called before the end of 2008 and construction is expected to be over sometime in 2011.

The first phase of the new airport costs around Rs.19 billion. It is coming up more than eight years after the Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corporation (KSIIDC) and Airports Authority of India (AAI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the project.

A consortium of Siemens Project Ventures, Larsen & Toubro, and Unique Zurich Airport is building the new airport. KSIIDC and AAI also have stakes in the Bangalore International Airport Ltd.

Meanwhile, the Tata group opened their first supermarket, Star Bazaar, in the city, at the fag end of 2007. Another business group is also planning to open a supermarket soon.

The Star Bazaar, spread over 75,000 sq ft in three floors, sells apparel, fast moving consumer goods, food products, footwear, kitchen and other home products.

"Bangalore is witnessing an unprecedented retail boom. This is our first supermarket here and we intend to expand its presence at a fast pace," Neeti Chopra, marketing head of Trent Ltd, under which arm Tatas run the retail business, said at the opening of Star Bazaar.

However, the New Year will not bring unmixed blessings to Bangalore.

The biggest worry remains political instability as polls to the 224-member assembly are expected in April-May. The last assembly polls in 2004 led to a fractured verdict and then to collapse of two coalition governments in less than three years.

The Bharatiya Janata Party had emerged as the single largest party with 79 seats followed by Congress with 65 and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) with 58. The rest were independents and small parties.

All three parties are battling dissidence and suffer from lack of a leader with all-Karnataka appeal.

Though the BJP's confidence has been boosted by the party's victories in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly polls, political analysts in Karnataka are not betting on the party coming to power on its own in the state.

Neither the Congress nor JD-S is in a position to come to power on its own.

Infrastructure development and governance may continue to suffer as a result of this political uncertainty, though business and economy will probably continue to thrive.

Bangalore Shining: Long on Promise, Short on Action

Bangalore Shining: Long on Promise, Short on Action

Basavaraj Itnal/ Newindpress

Bangalore, Dec 31: In his budget speech, deputy chief minister B S Yeddyurappa made big promises to the IT city.

He offered an underground expressway from Minsk Square to Hebbal Flyover that would enable commuters to zip to the new Bangalore International Airport (BIA) in about 20 minutes.

He also proposed an elevated expressway from Brigade Road to Central Silk Board. This, along with the Silk Board-Electronic City expressway was expected to cut the travel time for techies from the city to Electronic City to nearly 30 minutes.

Both the projects are still in the concept stage. Another dream project is to have a 30-km inner core elevated corridor connecting 50 important junctions in the city.

The Rs 3000 crore project remains a dream despite budget allocation for it. Bangalore Development Authority’s (BDA) only achievement in the year seems to be finalising the Master Plan.

Like all master plans, this also relaxed the green belt and opened up more areas for development. On the infrastructure front, a link on outer ring road was created near Magadi road and a flyover in Ramamurthy Nagar was completed.

The BDA shed some work load by transferring work on the peripheral ring road to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

BDA will now go ahead with land acquisition for the work and hand it over to NHAI to lay a toll road. BDA announced five new layouts and about 2 lakh low cost flats, but none of them were finalised.

Dead palike: Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) completed two years without an elected body.

The Government is using formation of Greater Bangalore as a convenient excuse to ward off elections to the civic body. The officialdom of the Palike has done little to enhance the quality of civic services.

Greater Bangalore is expected to have nearly 140 wards and political experts feel that the councillors from new areas would play a crucial role in BBMP.

But elections to the civic body would not be conducted before the State goes to the polls. In the meantime, Palike will be headed by a part-time administrator.

Administrator Dilip Rau too made news of sorts when he gave assent to policy issues like introduction of Capital Value System of property tax and revision of betterment charges.

Such decisions are normally taken by an elected body. Beyond Greater Bangalore, new townships and ring roads are being taken up by Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA).

BMRDA has finalised proposals on satellite townships in Nandagudi, Solur, Bidadi, Ramanagar and Sathanur. Nandagudi SEZ has already been given to DLF.

2008 will see 5 new layouts

2008 will see 5 new layouts
In A First, BDA Will Invite Global Tenders For Their Design

Bangalore: This is no crystal gazing into 2008. The governor’s executive committee will shortly give the nod to five new layouts to be formed by BDA that envisages distribution of 90,000 sites across the city.
Sources in the urban development department told The Times of India that it has forwarded the BDA’s proposal to the cabinet (governor’s executive committee). “The BDA had sent us the proposal in September and we have forwarded it for approval. We should be able to get the approval in a week’s time,’’ senior officials said.
The BDA has completed the ground survey and has sent a formal request to the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Corporation to initiate land acquisition in the areas identified for the proposed layouts. BDA commissioner M K Shankarlinge Gowda said the project is moving in the right direction and once the cabinet approves it, global tenders will be floated.
Instead of the conventional method of the authority’s engineering section drawing up plans, the BDA this time wants city designers of international repute to prepare a project report for all the layouts. “Once we finalise the designs, we will float tenders for execution,’’ he said.
The BDA has planned five layouts — K Shivarama Karanth Layout, Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Layout, D Devaraj Urs Layout, Kyasambahalli Changalaraya Reddy Layout and S Nijalingappa Layout.
The layouts will yield nearly 1.76 lakh sites of different dimensions excluding Civic amenities (CA) sites and commercial sites. BDA will distribute its share of 90,000 sites through public notice.
In each of the layouts, group housing projects will be taken up in 100 acres for economically weaker sections; 15,000 group houses will be constructed and a total of 75,000 units will be constructed in 3 years.
Two pronged compensation package — for every acre acquired 9,583 sq ft of developed land will be awarded to the landowner; or cash compensation as per prevailing rates and one site as incentive.

Bumper year for city in IT hiring

Bumper year for city in IT hiring
Mini Joseph Tejaswi | TNN

Bangalore: The calendar 2007 has been a bumper year with the Indian IT/ITeS industry recruiting around 5 lakh employees, against 3.5 lakh in the previous calendar and 2.5 lakh people in 2005. Interestingly, Bangalore has captured almost 50% of this cumulative hiring numbers with IT and ITeS segments taking equal share at 50:50.
Active hirers have been TCS with a net addition of 30,000, Infosys Technologies with 27,000, Wipro 25,000, IBM 22,000, Cognizant 17,000, HCL Technologies 14,000, Satyam Computers 12,000, Accenture 10,000, CapGemini-Kanbay combine 5,000 and EDS 3,000.
“Clearly year 2007 has seen people scale across verticals, be it services, products, semicon, telecom, datacom, gaming and entertainment, automotive and aviation and KPO,” said B S Murthy, CEO, HumanCapital, a firm that analyses the talent market. The unprecedented boom witnessed by industries like banking, insurance, retail, realty, aviation, hospitality and healthcare during the year has had tremendous impact on the growth of tech sector.
“This has significantly increased the size of domestic IT market with every conventional business going in for tech solutions and software packages. Also, a large number of tech firms have expanded their foot print to tier II and tier III cities across the country thereby significantly ramping up the people-front,” said Nirupama VG, AdAstra Consultants.
Annual tech salary increments too have seen a sudden spurt, in the range of 20% to 30% during this year, with India becoming “the paymaster” across all the emerging geographies. During calendar 2006, the increments were in the range of 13% to 15%.
During the calendar, Mysore, Bangalore’s logical extension, emerged as a notable tech IT player. Its tech force doubled to over 20,000 with Infosys, Wipro, L&T Infotech and Target taking the lead. To top it all, year 2007 has seen TCS, the country’s largest IT firm, becoming the largest tech employer in the country with 1.1 lakh employees. Waiting in the wings to cross this one lakh people mark early next year are Infosys, now at 89,000, Wipro 85,000 and IBM with 65,000 people.
With tech spaces including product, R&D, media, mobile application, hardware, remote infrastructure management are becoming extremely active, the number game is expected to continue through the coming year as well, said Pravin Tatavarti, MD, Allegis India, staffing outfit.

Builders cashing in on Bangalore’s mall mania

Builders cashing in on Bangalore’s mall mania
R Jayaprakash | TNN

Bangalore: When the first shopping mall opened in Bangalore in the late ‘90s, the city was hooked. Today, the mall culture is an integral part of the social landscape, with 20-odd malls all over the city. Next year, shoppers can look forward to 10 more places to indulge themselves.
While some malls are still on the drawing board, work on 12 of them has started and builders are racing against deadlines to complete them.
Even the BBMP has hopped onto the bandwagon, converting the 50,000-sqft market complex at Madiwala to a mall that houses many big brands.
Developers are also converting old industries and theatres in the heart of the city to swanky shopping destinations. While over 20 malls have come up in the past three years, sources reveal that by mid-2008, 5 million lakh sqft of retail space will be up for grabs. They add that the market is already abuzz, with big brands keen on closing deals well before the malls are completed.
The first retail wave hit Bangalore in the 1990s when supermarkets were introduced. The mall concept took the city by storm in 2000, after its success in the National Capital Region — Delhi and Gurgaon — and Mumbai.
Malls of international standards such as Forum, Bangalore Central, Garuda, Sigma, Poorva Pavilion and a host of others have redefined Bangalore’s skyline.
The city will soon boast of what is touted as the largest mall in the country — Mantri Mall on Sarjapur Road, which will have a built-up area of 18 lakh sqft.
Malls are so successful because they create a win-win situation for both builders and consumers.
Developers are bullish as capital holdings in malls gives them strong real estate assets and wide visibility, with the imposing malls seen as signature buildings. Moreover, space in malls comes at a premium and retailers don’t think twice about setting up shop there.
As for shoppers, malls are convenient because of the wide range of lifestyle products available under one roof. Recliners with massage facility, kids’ corners, cafeteria, beauty saloons and gaming zones are value additions that keep shoppers inside the malls. Compared to the old shopping centres, where shoppers tired easily because of compartmentalized stores, the layout of malls makes it easy for them to splurge.
“The future of retailing is in these malls, with hypermarkets and mega stalls being the trend. Big players are entering the Bangalore market — Walmart, Carrefour, India Bulls, Birlas and Reliance. The segment is maturing,’’ said Farook Mehmood, MD, Silverline Realty.
Ramkumar’s (Ramkumar Mills) Forum Mall II (Shantiniketan, Whitefield) Ozone (Whitefield) Brigade Metropolis, Brigade Gateway (Yeswanthpur) Mantri House (Sarjapur Road) Sobha Minerva (Minerva Mills) Sigma Grand Tata Imperial (erstwhile Imperial Theatre) Galaxy Embassy (erstwhile Galaxy Theatre) Poorva Mall Garuda II (erstwhile Swagat Theatre)

Go ahead, build bigger home

Go ahead, build bigger home
Chandrashekar G | TNN

Bangalore: Lack of space in your house? You can now legally create more space. BDA’s Masterplan 2015 made the provision, while the BBMP has now come out with a break-up of how much additional space you can have in your existing or a new house: by changes to setback, coverage area, Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and height of the building.
To help people understand to what extent they are allowed to construct a building, BBMP’s town planning department has brought out a manual detailing the availability of the additional space.
In order to accommodate growing population in the city, the Masterpaln had relaxed restrictions on setback, coverage, FAR and height of a building. The owners of 20x30 sqft, 30x40 sqft and 40x60 sqft are more lucky, as they can enjoy all relaxations without bothering about the road width. However, for sites measuring 50x80 sqft and 80x120 sqft, the permissible FAR depends on the width of the road and the zone.
Prior to approval of the Masterplan, for a building measuring 40x60 sqft in the city, the maximum coverage area of the site was only up to 65%. Now, coverage area up to 75 % could be utilised. Earlier, the setback in the front was 10ft, 5ft each at rear, left and right sides of a site. Now, the setback for a building has been reduced to 7.2ft in the front, 4.8ft at rear and 3.14 ft on either sides of the site.
The FAR has been increased to 1.75 irrespective of the width of the road which was earlier 0.75 to 1.0 FAR, depending on the zone in which the site was located. The changes made in the Masterplan also applies for the existing buildings. The owner can heighten his building and have more FAR.
Rainwater harvesting mandatory in sites of all dimensions Owners of sites measuring more than 2400 sqft and 4000 sqft should mandatorily plant trees and have a provision for solar apparatus It is mandatory to plant one tree in 2400 sqft site and two trees in 4000 sqft area, at the setback area in rear side. The trees should be planted before the approval of the building plan. FAR makes homes bigger
Bangalore: Your house just got more spacious. With the BDA’s Masterplan 2015 pushing the FAR (floor area ratio) envelope further, it’s boom time for those building houses.
With population of the city bursting at its seams, the civic authorities are under pressure to create more space from the available land bank. Therefore, the masterplan has relaxed restrictions on setback, coverage, FAR and height of a building. Those who are going to benefit more are owners of sites measuring 20x30 sqft, 30x40 sqft and 40x60 sqft.
Here’s a comparison of the FAR norms currently in practice and the ones that have been proposed.

Path paved for train to Devanahalli

Path paved for train to Devanahalli
By P M Raghunandan, DH News Service, Bangalore:
Work on the elevated, high-speed rail link to the Devanahalli international airport is all set to begin at full pace.

With an aim to avoid any delay in preparing the ground for the project launch, the State government has decided to appoint the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) as the project consultant. The DMRC has been authorised to prepare the tender document, official sources told Deccan Herald.

The State Executive Committee headed by Governor Rameshwar Thakur cleared the project only last week.

Tender document
Once the tender document is ready, the process of inviting tenders will be taken up. On the other end, the Karnataka State Industrial Investment and Development Corporation which has been appointed the nodal agency to implement the project, will simultaneously call for expression of interest from investors, besides setting up a special purpose vehicle on the lines of the Bangalore Metro Railway Corporation (BMRC).

All these steps are likely to be completed in the next few days, the official sources said.

“The government move will save a lot of time, as inviting tenders for appointing a consultant would itself have taken months,” they added.

In fact, the DMRC is the only government agency in the country having expertise in designing and implementing high speed rail projects.

The DMRC is currently implementing a similar project in Delhi.

“The State government is keen on utilising the expertise of DMRC for speedy implementation. The aim is to start the civil works by 2008-end and complete it by 2011,” the sources said.

And officials do not see any hurdle in the way of the project. For, unlike the Bangalore Metro, land required for this project is much less.

High-speed LINK
*Actual work to begin by 2008-end
* 34-km rail from BRV ground to airport
* Train frequency is 10 minutes initially
* Maximum speed of 160 kmph
* Each train to have 6 coaches
* Scheduled to be operational from 2011

On December 31, avoid these roads

On December 31, avoid these roads
Bangalore, dhns:
Keeping public safety in mind, the traffic police have decided to restrict movement of traffic and parking of vehicles on MG Road, Brigade Road, Church Street, St Marks Road, Rest House Road and Residency Road on the night of December 31.

No Entry: Entry of vehicles, except police vehicles and vehicles of essential services on duty, will be restricted towards the following roads from 8 pm to 1 am on January 1, 2008:
* MG Road: from Anil Kumble Circle up to the junction with Residency Road near Mayo Hall.
* Brigade Road: from Cauvery Emporium Junction up to Opera House Junction.
* Church Street: from Church Street Junction on Brigade Road up to the Museum Road junction.
* Museum Road: from Museum Road Junction with MG Road up to its junction with Old Madras Bank Road.
* Rest House Road: from Rest House Road Junction on Museum Road up to its junction on Brigade Road.
* Kamaraj Road: from Cauvery Emporium Junction to Cubbon Road Junction, and Cubbon Road Junction to Arts and Crafts Emporium.
* Residency Cross Road to MG Road Symphony theatre Junction.
No Parking: Parking of vehicles, except police vehicles and vehicles of essential services on duty, will be banned from 4 pm to 12.30 am on the following roads.
* MG Road: from Anil Kumble Circle up to Trinity Circle.
* Brigade Road: from Arts and Crafts Junction up to Opera House Junction.
* Church Street: from Church Street Junction with Brigade Road up to its junction on St Marks Road.
* Rest House Road: from its junction on Brigade Road up to its junction with Museum Road.
* Museum Road: from its junction on MG Road up to its junction with Old Madras Bank Road.
Diversions: (after 8 pm):
* Vehicles coming from Queen’s Statue Junction on MG Road and proceeding towards Halasur and beyond should turn left at Anil Kumble Circle at BRV Junction, turn right towards Cubbon Road and proceed on Cubbon Road and join MG Road near Webb’s Junction; Vehicles proceeding in the direction of cantonment areas from Halasur should turn right near Trinity Circle and enter Halasur Road, turn left on Dickenson Road and proceed towards Cubbon Road.

Roads for parking: Parking of vehicles is allowed on both sides of Kamaraj Road from Kamaraj Road Junction to Commercial Street Junction, and inside Cubbon Park on Kings Road. Public can also park their private vehicles at Shivajinagar bus stand area.

Flyovers closed: The following flyovers will be closed from 9 pm on December 31, 2007 to 5 am on January 1, 2008: * Mysore Road flyover, Richmond Circle flyover, National College flyover, Anand Rao Circle flyover, Banaswadi flyover.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ushering in new year: Silicon

Ushering in new year: Silicon
Bangalore, C S Hemanth, dhns:
The Garden City with its umpteen business opportunities might be at the top of the IT radar but low on the travellers list.

Low room occupancy rate in most City hotels during Christmas and year-end season is proof to this.

The 4,000-plus rooms available in star hotels have not seen many occupants during the season, unlike those in other cities, where tourists throng in large numbers.

“The occupancy rate during the holidays, from December 15 to January 5, is comparatively lower than the rest of the year or the winter season. There has been a decline in corporate travel both from the international and domestic sector, as Bangalore is primarily a business destination. Also, because most of the offices shut down for holidays during this time,” an official spokesperson from The Oberoi told Deccan Herald.

Moreover, low occupancy rate has been attributed to a decline in the number of international tourists who visit Bangalore on business.

Also, most hotels reported that the room occupancy rate during the period from December 15 to January 5 would be around 60 to 70 per cent, which is lower than the average. It is said to be lesser than the rest of December’s average occupancy rate which stands at 85 to 90 per cent.

Heading home

“A majority of the occupants in these hotels are international tourists and expats who contribute about 84 per cent of the occupancy rate. This being Christmas and New Year time, many of them have headed home. Normally during this time, we depend on domestic tourists,” said Shambu Paul, manager (sales and marketing), St Marks Hotel.

Many of the hotels also said that the occupancy rate has been slightly higher when compared to last year, due to special packages on offer.

“The special packages have contributed to an healthy occupancy rate during this season, otherwise there are not many corporate customers. However, customers from the leisure and wedding segments too have been able to fill up a few rooms,” said a manager, south region, Taj Group of Hotels.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Metro Rail to finalise new signalling, communication system

Metro Rail to finalise new signalling, communication system
Saturday December 29 2007 09:08 IST

Sangeetha B K

Buy/Sell/Rent Property of your Choice in your City.

BANGALORE: The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) will shortly finalise international consultants for the installation of signaling and telecommunication system in the metro.

The signalling and telecommunication system will consist of onboard train control, monitoring, diagnosis, communication, and onboard-to-ground communication for remote maintenance and dynamic updating of the operational parameters and passenger information system, audio and video announcements.

Says V Madhu, BMRCL Managing Director: “The signalling and the communication system in the Metro Rail is a significant aspect of the rail system.

Telecommunication is a vital aspect where communication with passengers, the train driver, the operations trained staff and for advertisements and display will function.”

“We are looking at the state-of-the- art signalling and telecommunication system for Bangalore Metro, either on the lines of the Delhi Metro Rail or the most advanced system that will be available.

The consultants should be able to design, manufacture, supply, installation, test and commissioning of signalling, train control and communication systems,” points out V Madhu.

The seven consultants who have been shortlisted are Siemens Ltd, Larsen and Toubro, Alstom Projects India Ltd, Bombadier Transportation, Mitsubishi Corporation, Westing House Rail System and Union Switch and Signal Pvt Ltd.

These consultants have worked on some of the world's best metro trains like the Madrid train, the Taiwan Metro rail, the light train in Philadelphia, South Korean Metro Rail, to name a few.

“The shortlisted consultants will be adjudged by the 'SysPra,' a French consultant, who are working with BMRCL for the best signalling and telecommunication system. As soon as the criteria for the systems are satisfied then, in about two weeks the consultants will be finalised” added V Madhu.

Metro on M G Road

Metro on M G Road
Subrahmanyan Viswanath
Romp, revelry and resolutions, the three Rs of a celebrations-do, mark the mood and method of most revellers for ushering in the New Year.

Trust namma Bengalooru’s motley of young, yuppie brigade living life in the fast lanes of malls, multiplexes, food courts, beer and lounge bars being far behind. No way. Well, with the clock ticking by towards zero hour in just about couple of days when we say Sayonara 2007 and Swagatham 2008 there’s a certain festive nip in the air. With spring in their steps, vivacious verve in their body lingo, sporting latest in sartorial styles, these happy and savvy brood are demonstrative of growing mobile and pod generation for whom it is sheer joi de vivre to be in the thick of things. Live life kingsize is their credo and surely know what it is to binge big and boisterous. Have whale of a time as if there is no tomorrow. Ofcourse, many more joints to jive, jig and jollify may have sprung aplenty for them young things to bid the old year bye and tumultuously toll in the new year.

But then as clock creeps to strike that defining hour wherein old wanes out as the new weaves in, the one prime place, majority among these happy brave breed, would like to swamp to be seen, heard and hail hurrah to New Year is City’s coveted hotspot — Mahatma Gandhi Road. However, sadly, MG of yester-years is long lost into dust books of history. MG, which held prominent pride of place, be it for that sauntering stroll, seasonal shopping sessions, for cupid struck couples to lounge on its beautiful boulevard has lost its lustre and light. With sun setting on its betwiching boulevard, now etched only in mind’s recess for posterity, several landmarks lost to realty syndrome that is gnawing at City’s architectural vital, MG’s entire stretch snuffed out to make for namma metro, MG’s charm has been dealt body blow being rendered inhospitable and a dampner on New Year festivities with metro playing partypooper.

As a result, revellers who raced to MG to savour the moment on the stroke of midnight as City’s churches tolled the Cinderalla hour and court the paparazzi for possible potshot at fame on frontpage or PG3 of their favourite paper now have have to make do without their midnight date with MG as they gustily hoot in 2008 and hail Hallelujah in a infectuous bonding of bonhomie.

Towards a clean, green City

Towards a clean, green City
S Lalitha
If you indulge in any kind of pilfering, you will be fined amounts ranging between Rs 100 and Rs 500-green boards in leading parks in the City spell out these words loud and clear.

But this hardly acts as a deterrent to any would-be pilferer. The reasons are not far to seek: a woeful lack of enforcement.

With the BBMP having a slew of plans up its sleeve for a cleaner Bengalooru next year, which includes appointment of litter cops at main thoroughfares to keep a tab on public behaviour, Metrolife checked out with the commoner as well as those in the know of things whether disciplinary measures could usher in a cleaner City.

Principal secretary, Rural and Panchayat Raj department, Jeyaraj, who has served two spells as BBMP Commissioner, says, “Theoretically, the efforts to bring about a cleaner city is a very good thing. Enforcement is going to a be a major issue particularly as we do not have enough manpower. So, I believe a litter-free City has to come from the self-volition of Bangaloreans.

“It might end up with complaints of harassment from the public. Again, contracting the job to an agency will result in a parallel power centre and the concerned individual will take a decision on whom it wants to impose any fine.”
Convenor of Cubbon Park Mitra Sangha C K Narendranath feels the waking up of civic authorities is welcome.

“However, it is very important that before enforcing anything, the infrastructure is clearly set in place. Some of the rules listed on park boards are High Court orders but it has not been implemented.” A vital requirement is that the enforcement group must be sufficiently motivated to ensure its success, he added. The group, comprising 52 volunteers, has been spending every Saturday morning clearing up the litter at the park.

If rules are introduced, they ought to be abided by, feels M R Srinivasa Murthy, Principal Secretary, Finance department. “Many cities worldover have done it. The main issue at hand is the rigour with which the rules ought to be enforced. Prior to that, sufficient awareness has to be generated among people that it is being done in their own interest.”

As if lending credence to the view, Deputy Director of Horticulture, K G Jayadev says, “The boards are merely there to create an awareness among the public. No fine amount is being collected.” He also said he had to check out records to see if it was being done.

M S Srinivas, software engineer, Mphasis: “All these measures are not at all possible. These is India where rules are not followed. How many people on vehicles cross over the white lines at traffic junctions behind which they are supposed to stand. Even those well-educated do not go by rules. Increasing the policing at parks will help in curbing littering to a small extent.”

Sunenda, homemaker: Strict rules can definitely bring about a change. Huge dustbins placed near each other and big banners to create awareness can create a cleaner City.

Ramachandra Hebbar, stationery shop proprietor: Not merely a fine, some kind of punishment should also be enforced. Today anyone can easily pay a paltry sum like Rs 100. Those supposed to enforce the rules must also be very strict. Also monitoring should be round-the-clock. It is generally done during daytime only and people will come and dump stuff at nights.

Sheela, Assistant Clerk, LIC: Enforcement holds the key to the success of any regulaation. There are boards announcing fines but who is collecting them. Also, some structure must be put in place wherein the number of violations is also kept tab of and punishment dealt accordingly.

For them, tragedy strikes in City again

For them, tragedy strikes in City again
DH News Service,Bangalore:
A gang of four unidentified persons barged into the general compartment, seconds after the train departed Bangalore City railway station and stabbed one person and decamped with Rs 70,000

Akmal Hussein and his wife Ameera Beebi had no clue about the tragedy to befall them, when they left Uripura in Panchmahal district. They came to Bangalore along with their daughter Saria Khatoom and Hussein’s cousin Mohammad Nuhoo on December 23.
The Husseins were staying at the house of one of their relatives in Marathalli. All four boarded the train carrying a sum of Rs 70,000 with them. And before the train could reach Cantonment railway station, tragedy struck.
A grief-stricken Ameera narrated the incident, “A gang of four unidentified persons barged into the general compartment, seconds after the train departed Bangalore City railway station. Before we could understand what was happening, the gang members opened knives and directed us to give the money. My husband protested saying he had no money. One of them started assaulting him. When he tried to protect himself, he stabbed him on the chest several times. One of them thrashed Nuhoo when he tried to intervene. Those inside the compartment were watching the incident as mute spectators. No one bothered to pull the chain to step and we were not in a position to pull the chain. Within few minutes, the trained slowed down. The accused jumped down and vanished into the darkness,” he added.
“We immediately took him to Bowring Hospital where he was treated. The doctors asked us to shift him to SD Sanatorium where he breathed his last,” she added.
Cops confident
Railway police have said they are confident about solving the case at the earliest. “As they were moving with a heavy amount of cash, someone who was aware about that might have executed the robbery. We are focusing our investigation on this line. The victims were staying at Marathahalli and the accused might have been from the same area,” said Superintendent of Railway Police Srinivasan.
Railway officials kept silent on the issue of giving compensation to victims.

Pay property tax in time or shell out fine

Pay property tax in time or shell out fine
By Satish Shile,DH News Service,Bangalore:
The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has now adopted the Capital Value System (CVS) to assess property tax.

Bangaloreans, get ready to pay property tax on time. Else, you will have to cough up more money as beginning from the next financial year, any delay in paying property tax will attract a hefty penalty.

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has now adopted the Capital Value System (CVS) to assess property tax.

While new buildings that have come up since October 2007 are already being assessed under the CVS, the rest will come under the new tax system from 2008-09.

Till recently, the Palike was following Annual Rental Value (ARV) system. Barring the erstwhile BMP, all other urban local bodies had switched over to the CVS in 2002.

The then elected body of the BMP had been deferring the adoption of CVS from 2005-06. The creation of Greater Bangalore further delayed the switchover.

Liberal approach

The Palike had been liberal in its approach to property tax as the emphasis was on increasing the collection. The tax had to be paid in two instalments and the last date for payment was October 30.

The penalty on any delayed payment was fixed at 5 per cent of the total tax per year.
However, the Palike has now advanced the last date for payment, with any delay inviting a higher penalty.

Woes to end on BMTC non-stop buses

Woes to end on BMTC non-stop buses
By S Praveen Dhaneshkar,DHNS,Bangalore:
Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) will introduce non-stop Point-to-Point service to make travel swifter, sans the jostling and endless waits at bus-stops next month.

Come January, BMTC bus commuters could look forward to reaching their destination faster without having to lose precious time at bus-stops en route as non-stop “Point-to-Point” services will become a reality.

The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) will introduce the service to make travel swifter, sans the jostling and endless waits at bus-stops next month. This, traffic experts feel, will not only save time but also popularise public transport.

BMTC Managing Director Upendra Tripathy said: “Twenty per cent of the 500-strong ‘Suvarna’ peak hour fleet that would hit the roads in January, will run on “non-stop” routes with a flat fare. Operating along with the regular buses, they would considerably ease the rush at bus-stops and make travel faster. A service every 20 minutes connecting various points of the City will be introduced,” he said.

The service will offer directional connectivity — from the South to the North and East to West — of the City. Prof Sreehari, a traffic engineering expert, described the BMTC move as a viable way to reach destinations faster as the City roads might just be unable to accomodate any more automobiles. “With the City’s thoroughfares making for a perfect recipe for traffic jams and bumper-to-bumper crawl being the order of the day, commuters would want to travel faster. BMTC could also consider plying them on flexi routes, wherein they could traverse not on scheduled routes, but take roads/streets with lesser traffic to reach destinations. The government must offer practical solutions through public transport until the Metro rail gets going,” he added.

ITC plans two luxury hotels at Devanahalli

ITC plans two luxury hotels at Devanahalli
To Invest Rs 1,200 Crore By 2010
Anshul Dhamija | TNN

Bangalore: ITC WelcomGroup has decided to invest Rs 1,200 crore in Bangalore to set up three-premium luxury hotels by 2010. With this, the group will have four luxury hotels in the city, including the existing ITC Windsor-The Luxury Collection.
Speaking to TOI, Pawan Verma, executive VP-operations ITC Hotels said: “We have identified two plots of land near the upcoming airport at Devanahalli and will be investing close to Rs 800 crore in developing two luxury hotels.
At present these projects are on the drawing board.’’ Each of these properties will have a room inventory between 250 and 300, with every single room absorbing around Rs 2 crore investment.
ITC’s another 300-room property, ITC Gardenia, which is being built on Richmond Road at an investment of Rs 400 crore, is schedule to be ready by 2009.
However, the company has not yet taken a decision on how it will position these new hotels in the premium bracket. ITC WelcomGroup in association with Starwood have seven properties across India branded under The Luxury Collection — one of Starwood’s premium brand offerings.
“We have not yet decided what brand of Starwood we will use, as currently we are negotiating to rope in their other premium brands like St Regis,’’ said Verma.
According to real estate consultants Cushman & Wakefield by 2010 Bangalore’s hospitality landscape would have close to 8,000 rooms with over 50% of them falling in the premium-luxury segment, $350 plus per room night tariff.
While Taj plans to add another two luxury hotels one at Devanahalli and the other at Yeshwanthpur, The Oberoi group is also setting up two luxury hotels one at Hebbal and the other near Devanahalli.
Further, Fortune Park Hotels, a subsidiary of ITC, has opened its premium middle scale offering Fortune Select Trinity in Whitefield.
The 143-room hotel has an entry-level room night tariff of Rs 8,500 and offers suites at Rs 15,000.

Landmark Kemp Fort to go, give way to mall

Landmark Kemp Fort to go, give way to mall
Shalini Sengupta | TNN

Bangalore: Kemp Fort, the landmark store on Airport Road, will not be around after a fortnight. Jubilant Retail, the retail arm of the Rs 4,600-crore Jubilant Group, has taken up the 2-lakh-sq-foot Kemp Fort property on a 20-year lease. Jubilant will pay around Rs 1.5 crore a month.
Kemp Group chairman Ravi Melwani confirmed the development to TOI: “The terms and conditions are still being worked. It’s going to be a win-win deal.’’
The Kids Kemp store on M G Road will continue to operate. “Only the Kemp Fort facility has been leased out, and not the property behind that. The building will not be demolished. The Jubilant Group is going to start a mall on the lines of Garuda and Forum,’’ said Melwani.
Reliance Retail was also in talks with Melwani for a buyout. Melwani didn’t want to sell it, but was willing to lease it out for Rs 100 per square foot, said sources. The store has offered a 50% discount to clear stocks. Kemp Fort was started around 20 years ago. It soon became a craze among kids and parents alike. For any visitor to Bangalore, a visit to the store was a must.
Jubilant Retail, on a massive South roll-out, has allotted close to Rs 2,500 crore for the next five years.

Passenger traffic grows 35% at Bangalore airport

Passenger traffic grows 35% at Bangalore airport

Our Bureau

Bangalore, Dec. 28 Bangalore’s HAL Airport, slated to become the busiest gateway to South India, recorded domestic passenger traffic figures of 4.9 million during April-October 2007, showing a growth of 35.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis.

Chennai recorded domestic passenger traffic of 4.2 million during the period, while Hyderabad was about 3.2 million.

During the same period last year, the domestic passenger traffic figures at Bangalore airport stood at 3.6 million, according to statistics available with the Aviation Centre of Excellence (ACEXC), Mumbai.

Mr Narinder Kaushal, Airport Director, Airports Authority of India, Bangalore Airport, said that though Chennai recorded a higher growth in the number of passengers during the year, Bangalore still sees the highest passenger traffic after Delhi and Mumbai and is currently handling traffic of 10.3 million passengers.

“The airport records 310 aircraft movements per day and we are trying to restrict new movements into the airport now,” he said. In 2006-07, HAL Airport recorded passenger traffic movement of 8.2 million.

ACEXC figures show that international passenger traffic at the airport grew by 34.3 per cent during April-October 2007 (from 6.6 lakh passengers to 8.9 lakh passengers).

Friday, December 28, 2007

Rail link to new airport gets on fast track

Rail link to new airport gets on fast track

Bangalore: The proposed high speed rail link to the International Airport at Devanahalli has picked up speed with a Government Order on Wednesday approving the project and authorising the infrastructure development department to hasten work.
On Saturday the cabinet had okayed the introduction of a highspeed rail link connecting B R V Grounds (M G Road) to Bangalore International airport at an estimated cost of Rs 3,716 crore. A Special Purpose Vehicle will be created for the project and work will commence by Dec 2008.
A City Air Terminal (CAT) will be built on BRV Grounds to enable air passengers to check-in here along with the baggage. A boarding pass will be issued, and the passengers can take the train to the airport and board the aircraft. At Hebbal too, similar facilities will be set up. However, in Yelahanka, passengers can board the train without check-in procedures.
It will be a 25-30 minutes journey to the International airport, which is 34 kms from MG road. There will be two stops, at Hebbal and Yelahanka. THE MODALITIES
KSIIDC appointed as a nodal agency.
DMRC will appoint consultants to study the impact of CAT on MG Road traffic.
BMRC to be project consultants.
40 hectres of land required for the project, including 26.65 hectres of private land Eco-friendly electric train will run upto Hebbal on the median. Thereafter the track will run on the left hand side of the road till the airport.
Tree felling would be minimum during implementation of project.
Commuter fee will be Rs 200 from BRV Grounds; Rs 150 from Hebbal; Rs 100 from Yelahanka.

Move to ‘privatise’ Bal Bhavan opposed

Move to ‘privatise’ Bal Bhavan opposed

Special Correspondent

Governor urged to rescind memorandum of understanding with private parties

Judicial inquiry sought into privatisation move and action against those responsible

Bangalore: The former Minister B.T. Lalitha Naik and Karnataka Rakshana Vedike president T.A. Narayana Gowda have opposed what they described as a move to privatise the Bal Bhavan here and said the proposal was against the interests of poor children.
‘Rescind MoU’

Addressing presspersons here on Thursday, Ms. Naik sought the intervention of Governor Rameshwar Thakur to rescind the memorandum of understanding signed with private parties for upgrading of the Bal Bhavan, which is located inside Cubbon Park.
Demand for probe

She demanded a judicial inquiry into the privatisation move and urged the Governor to take action against all those who were involved.

Referring to the tender notification issued by the Department of Women and Child Development for installation and maintenance of the toy train and other facilities, she said there was no dearth of government funds to improve facilities at the Bal Bhavan.

Privatisation and an entry fee would deprive poor children of an opportunity to visit the Bal Bhavan as profit would be the main motive. The Government should take steps to protect the rights of the public, especially children of socially and financially backward classes, she said.
‘Rules violated’

In the absence of a full-fledged committee, the Bal Bhavan Society had violated rules and decided to privatise the entire infrastructure and recreational facilities, Mr. Gowda and Ms. Naik said.

Going after encroachers of prime land

Going after encroachers of prime land

T.S. Ranganna

The Ramaswamy panel exposed the nexus in the loot of government land

— Photo: K. Gopinathan

STARTLING REVELATIONS: A.T. Ramaswamy and members of the legislative committee during investigation at an encroached land in Bangalore in this May 2007 photo.

Bangalore: The high point in Karnataka politics last year was the findings of the Joint Legislature Committee that probed government land encroachments in Bangalore Urban district.

The committee was headed by the former Janata Dal (S) MLA, A.T. Ramaswamy.

It exposed so fully, for the first time, the connivance of the officers in the departments of Revenue, Muzrai, Forests, Minor Irrigation, Health, Animal Husbandry and Transport, besides those in the Bangalore Development Authority, the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, the Karnataka Housing Board, the Wakf Board, Bangalore University, the Karnataka State Slum Clearance Board, various house building cooperative societies and city municipal councils.

The committee presented three reports to Speaker Krishna, including one after the Legislative Assembly was dissolved, which attracted criticism from the Congress. The party took objection to submitting the report saying that the committee had no locus standi once the Assembly was dissolved.

The committee members, who routinely inspected the areas several times, made startling revelations, sending shock waves among politicians, industrialists, builders, film personalities and heads of religious institutions.

It also led to a continuous debate among the public and elsewhere.

The panel detected land grabbing by 46,000 offenders. The area of grabbed land was estimated at 45,000 acres and its worth over Rs. 50,000 crore.

Since the committee has been wound up with the dissolution of the Assembly, Mr. Ramaswamy and other members met Governor Rameshwar Thakur on Thursday and urged him to take steps to stop the loot of land and natural resources through encroachments and mining.

They brought to the Governor’s notice that the Karnataka Prevention of Land Grabbing Act, 2007, was awaiting the President’s assent for the last eight months. The law provides for special courts to try land grabbing cases.

Speaking to presspersons here, Mr. Ramaswamy said the Governor had responded positively and promised to hold further discussions.

In the list of departments from which land has been encroached, the Revenue Department stands at the top with 33,877 acres.

Among those that have lost lands are: Department of Forests (2,223.33 acres); Bangalore Development Authority (2,878); lakes/tanks/water bodies (1,848); wakf board (263.18); Animal Husbandry Department (53.26); Muzrai Department (61); Slum Clearance Board (12.19); BBMP (13.09); Bangalore University (13.19); Karnataka Housing Board (34); Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (10.25); Department of Agriculture (3.19); and NIMHANS (3.26 acres).

Individual reports on each department have been submitted to the Speaker.

Mr. Ramaswamy also pointed out that the actual extent of land grabbing was more than what had been detected.

“This is also because of mischief and corruption at all levels by public servants in creating and abetting bogus records on the basis of which government lands are grabbed fearlessly by builders and others,” Mr. Ramaswamy said in his letter to the Governor.

He also expressed apprehension that “the corruption that has consumed the system” made him “doubtful whether this alarming situation can be remedied at all”.

Of the encroachment detected, only a little over 8,000 acres of land has been recovered by the Revenue Department, according to Mr. Ramaswamy.

Airport rail link notified

Airport rail link notified

Staff Reporter

Jakkarayanakere land to be converted into Police Parade Ground

Special purpose vehicle to be set up for implementing the project

BANGALORE: The State Government has notified the high speed rail link to international airport at Devanahalli and has authorised the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC), the consultant of the project, to finalise detailed project report (DPR).

A special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be set up to implement the project on public-private partnership and the project is to be developed on Build-Own-Transfer (BOT) basis by inviting Expression of Interest (EoI) and Request for Proposal (RFP) from private developers. After deliberations, the Government Order issued on Wednesday, stated that it had been decided to locate the City Airport terminal at the Police Parade Ground between Mahatma Gandhi Road and Cubbon Road as recommended by the DMRC.

The notification states that the Jakkarayanakere land would be converted into a Police Parade Ground. It allows Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. to use part of Jakkarayanakere for casting of pre-cast concrete structures till an alternative site is provided to BMRCL. The notification has advised the DMRC to appoint a suitable consultant to study the impact of City Airport Terminal on the traffic around Mahatma Gandhi Road and submit a report within four weeks.

Future Retail Capital of the country

Future Retail Capital of the country
Growth of retail in any market is directly proportional to the increase in the gross domestic income of the residents. With the retail sector in Bangalore growing at an annual rate of 45 percent, the City today figures among the list of preferred launch markets in the country, finds out Bindu Gopal Rao.

The retail market in south India was valued at Rs 2,62,930 crore (as per 2006 prices). Of this, the size of the organised retail market in 2006 stood at Rs 12,825 crore, representing 4.9 per cent of the total retail market.
According to ‘The South India Retail and Realty Report: 2015 and Beyond’ brought out by international real estate consultants Cushman & Wakefield for ‘Images Retail’, quality real estate space is a key concern of the retail sector in India.

The supply of shopping centre space in south India was at 14.1 million square feet in 2006-07, accounting for an increase of about five million square feet space in 2004.

Retail city!
Well, that’s not just number crunching, but a good indication of how retail is poised to grow in the city of retail dreams — Bangalore. Buoyed by a vibrant real estate industry, retail in Bangalore is now poised to enter the next stage.

Backed by high consumer demand, rising income levels and changing lifestyles, local supermarket players such as Reliance Fresh, Subhiksha, Food World, Spencers, Dailys and Fab Mall have aggressive plans to expand their consumer base.

Says Karun Varma, Local Director, Corporate Solutions – Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj, “In 2Q07, two new malls, one in the CBD and another in the suburbs, were opened to consumers. Cosmopolitan Mall, with a built-up area of 150,000 sq ft (13,935 sq m), and Lido Mall, with a built-up area of 85,000 sq ft (7,896 sq m), became operational this quarter. Cosmopolitan Mall will cater to the catchment areas of the Whitefield micro-market, while Lido Mall will serve the larger catchment area surrounding the CBD. Vaswani Group’s Cosmopolitan Mall is being fully leased by a single occupier —the Future Group — for its flagship apparel brand, Pantaloons.

On the other hand, Lido Mall has various tenants and houses medium to high-end retailers such as The Body Shop. Presently, there is 4.6 million sq ft (428,283 sq m) of mall space under construction across the various quadrants of Bangalore entailing 12 malls. This supply is expected to be complete by end-2008. The landmark retail project — UB City Mall on Vitthal Mallya Road, a prime location in the city — is expected to be operational in 4Q07.”

The Bangalore International Airport (BIAL), set to become operational by April 2008, has its own share of retail space. For the first phase, BIAL has two spaces of 1,750 sq m for international travel retail and duty-free; and 450 sq m of mono brands parcel for domestic travellers. The second phase would be offered in the first half of 2007. According to BIAL, the shortlist for the retail package includes the Nuance- Shopper’s Stop combine; the DFS Group; Dufry International; Alpha Airports Group and Gebrueder Heinemann - Oberoi Group, Pantaloon Retail, HMSHost; SSP International - Radhakrishna Hospitality Service of Mumbai; Global Franchise Architects (Coffee World/Pizza Corner); Cafe Coffee Day and Skygourmet, among others.

Right proportions
Says Amit Bagaria, CEO and Chairman, Asipac Group, “Growth of retail in any market is directly proportional to the increase in the gross domestic income of the residents. So, retail in Bangalore has been growing. A negative growth in retail is directly proportional to the degree of ‘greed’ of real estate developers, retailers and strata investors, which is also catalysed by brokers who refer to themselves with fancy suffixes such as IPC. Since the greed has been at the highest degree in the last couple of years, we are soon going to witness negative growth.”

Incidentally, the retail sector in Bangalore is growing at an annual rate of 45 percent.

Launch market
The city today figures among the list of preferred launch markets in the country. Commissariat Road for example, home to retail majors like Bangalore Central, Garuda Mall, Shoppers’ Stop, Home Stop, Globus and Lifestyle, has upstaged other new mall centric retail hotspots like the National Capital Region’s Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road and Mumbai’s Malad Link Road.

The first four months of 2007 have seen this high street clock an average of Rs 4.5 crore in daily billings. Average sales per day for the January-April period from the Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road stood at Rs 3.6 crore, while for the Malad-Link Road it was Rs 2.9 crore, according to a survey by real estate consultant Asipac Group.

The Gopalan Group is another major player in the retail space in Bangalore. “New shopping and entertainment concepts bring a complete lifestyle experience to local and international customers. Our cutting edge residential, commercial and now retail space design and architecture, is what sets us apart,” says Prabhakar, Director.
Each of these spaces are located strategically within the central business district, close to mid and high end residential communities, and high density areas guarantee a stream of profitable markets.

“We maintain and manage each shopping centre according to target customers and the surrounding environment. Our enduring presence for the past two decades in the real estate industry has proven our commitment and reliability as a developer,” adds Prabhakar. Incidentally the recently opened Gopalan mall is a first-of-its-kind mall with the country’s traditional and non-traditional retailers in a refreshing indoor-outdoor mall setting. Factory outlet stores and discounted retail formats stores are typically found in less accessible locations. However, this is a one-stop self-sufficient shopping centre that offers shopping and dining options in apparel, accessories, home furniture and hypermarket.

Today large builders like Brigade are also into the retail space. The Orion Mall at Brigade Gateway in Malleswaram-Rajajinagar will feature specialty outlets, services and restaurants, to address the growing lifestyle needs of a vast segment of the population. Some of the main anchor stores that have been finalised are Westside, Star India Bazaar and Landmark. PVR Cinemas will manage the multiplex. Orion Mall has been designed by H.O.K., New York — also the architects who conceptualised the master plan of Brigade Gateway. The mall’s exciting mix of retail, food and beverage, and entertainment outlets will be complemented by extensive landscaping and plenty of open spaces. Retail is poised to move to another level in the City.

With so much happening here, it will only be a little while before Bangalore will come to be known as The retail capital of India.

Parking woes

Parking woes
Thursday December 27 2007 08:20 IST

Express News Service

BANGALORE: Following complaints of harassment of motorists at the hands of parking lot operators, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had abolished paid parking in the city two years ago.

But the harassment continues. In one such case, complaints of harassment by an illegal parking lot operator near SP Road have fallen on deaf Police ears.

About 15,000 square feet of Palike land behind Dasappa Hospital is used for parking cars of traders of SP road and also by the visitors. However, one Dhanamma, in association with her son, had been demanding money from the motorists for parking.

“She demands Rs 20-30 per hour while the city has no paid parking system. If one doesn’t pay, her associates abuse the motorists,” said a trader from the area.

There had even been cases of personal attack. Raju, a shopkeeper, said: “My shop was attacked by Dhanamma’s men. I lodged a complaint with Halsurgate Police and they did nothing about it. Instead, I am made to run from pillar to post.”

It may be remembered that Palike had appealed to the people to lodge complaints with Police if unscrupulous elements demanded parking fees. On Dec 26, eight traders from SP Road have lodged the complaint but the illegal collection continues.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Citizens to green city

Citizens to green city

‘Bangalore’s forts are markers of history’

‘Bangalore’s forts are markers of history’

Bangalore: Bumper-to-bumper traffic or serene streets, glitzy malls and multiplexes or ancient temples and forts — the bustling Bangalore of today and the peaceful town of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries are diametric opposites.
S K Aruni of the Indian Council of Historical Research in a lecture at the Mythic Society brought out this contrast on Wednesday. Aruni identified forts and temples as boundaries and landmarks of the earlier Bangalore. “These are important markers that are rapidly disappearing in the midst of development. The markers tell us how Bangalore was and how it has grown. My effort was to revive the history of Bangalore by reviving the markers,” said Aruni.
Aruni said forts with different gates like Delhi Gate, Bangalore Gate, Mysore Gate and South Gate indicated the city’s geography. The forts differentiated the city and market area from the Cantonment (beyond Cubbon Park). The Devanahalli Fort, which was far removed from both city and cantonment, marked the outer areas of Bangalore, he said.
Aruni also explained how the city, from Devanahalli to Ramagiri, was located along the river Arkavathy’s bank — something we don’t see today. It is a completely different scenario as the once-fertile land is now part of the city, he observed.
Temple walls, too, were indicators of Bangalore’s boundaries. The walls, Aruni said, had sculptures depicting the Ramayana and Girija Kalyana mostly at the bottom. The Kote Venkatramana Temple and the Binnamangala Temple are fine historical examples of Bangalore. Aruni indicated that the city was rich culturally too. “There are many works on Bangalore’s history. It was a challenge to present something that wasn’t already known. What I discovered was that not many works focussed on fort walls and the kind of social life that existed around these walls. I hope this will tell us something about old Bangalore, lest we forget how it has grown to what it is today.”

New fees push up construction cost

New fees push up construction cost
Effective From Nov, Independent Houses Spared
Chandrashekar G | TNN

Bangalore: The cost of construction activity in the city has truly skyrocketed. After the recent guidance value and building valuation rate revision by the state government, the BBMP has hiked the fees for pre-construction sanctions — licence fee, ground rent, certified copy fee, building plan copy fee and compound wall fee. This apart, the BBMP has also introduced fees under two new heads — commencement and application fees. These new rates came into effect on Nov 17, 2007.
The BBMP also increased the security deposit to Rs 100/sq mtr for four-dwelling residential units from the earlier Rs 25/ sqmtr for five dwelling residential units and above. It has been hiked to Rs 100/ sqmtr for all kinds of commercial buildings from the earlier Rs 25/ sq mtr for 300 sqmtrs and above commercial buildings.
The fee revision will apply to apartments, commercial buildings, hospitals, educational institutions and semipublic buildings.
These fees will now be between 7 and 11 times higher. Licence fee, collected before commencing construction, used to be Rs 30/sqmtr for apartments. It now stands at Rs 250/sqmtr. For industries and semi-public buildings, it will be Rs 350/sqmtr. Educational institutions, hospitals and commercial buildings will have to pay Rs 500/sqmtr. However, there is no revision for single dwelling units.
The ground rent for single dwelling residential unit with an area ranging from 100 sqmtr to 501 sqmtr and above has been hiked from Rs 5-15 to Rs 10-40. For apartments, it is Rs 40/sqmtr from Rs 15/sqmtr; non-residential building, Rs 30-100/sqmtr as against the earlier Rs 15-40/sqmtr.
Of the two new fees, the commencement certificate fee ranges from Rs 10/sqmtr to Rs 40/sqmtr for single dwelling unit; for apartments it’s Rs 50/sqmtr and non-residential, it is Rs 80/sqmtr.
The application fee has been divided into four categories — residential building, apartment, high-rise apartments and non-residential building. The fees range from Rs 100/sqmtr to Rs 500/sqmtr.
Even the registration fee for diploma holders, engineers and architects has been hiked. From now on, diploma holders have to pay Rs 1,500 as against Rs 1,000, while engineers and architects have to pay Rs 3,000 against the previous Rs 2,000. These engineers, architects and diploma holders have to register with the BBMP to prepare building plans for their clients.
BBMP’s response: There is a huge gap between the existing and the required infrastructure. It has become essential to upgrade the infrastructure facilities to international standards. The BBMP’s revenue is insufficient to meet the demand. So, it has become necessary to increase the plan sanction fee and licence fee to mobilise more resources.

Poor infrastructure takes a toll on emergency services too

Poor infrastructure takes a toll on emergency services too

Raghava M.

Vehicles belonging to the fire and ambulance services are often trapped in traffic

BANGALORE: Two years ago, a major fire broke out in a commercial complex near Kempegowda bus terminus. Some 23 fire fighting vehicles were raced to the spot.

What they made up for enthusiasm was offset by the lack of a fundamental tool — water.

Finally, it took the generosity of the railways and a big restaurant nearby to come up the supply, saving precious time and property.

This incident is cited as an instance by the Bangalore Urban District Disaster Management Cell of the use of available resources and manpower to tackle emergencies. The Cell, headed by Deputy Commissioner M.A. Sadiq, is working out ways in which different government agencies, hospitals and people can coordinate in handling disasters.

“You cannot change in the available infrastructure much and control the increase in the number of vehicles. Disasters management have to be worked out by systematically tackling the bottlenecks by involving as many departments and people in the task,” said K.K. Pradeep, Liaison Officer of the District Disaster Management Cell.

The Cell will coordinate with 17 departments, including Fire and Emergency Services, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, Bangalore City Police, Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Ltd, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Medical Education and Defence. It will also have a list of region-wise hospitals and ambulances. The Cell will be fully functional from January 15, 2008.

The increasing number of infrastructure projects has not improved the emergency services, particularly ambulances and fire engines. The distressing sight of fire engines and ambulances, stuck in the traffic jam, their sirens wailing, is common. “Our vehicles find it difficult to reach the place of disaster in time,” said a senior official from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

For instance, reaching a fire engine from the Mayo Hall service station to a place near Koramangala Indoor Station takes about 20 minutes at night time when the traffic is less.

“But it takes nearly an hour during peak hours. There is hardly any space left for our vehicles to move,” the official said. It is difficult to get clear roads for emergencies similar to what the VVIPs get. “It’s not a planned event,” he added.

Taking the delay into consideration, the fire and emergency services usually send two fire tenders each from different routes to the spot, the official revealed.

Similar is the problem for the ambulances. Having reached the patient, the drivers are not sure of which hospital to rush them to and what route to take.

In order to tackle the problems, Mr. Sadiq has decided to specify the tasks to be carried out by each of the government agencies.

While the Fire Services will be involved in putting out the fire, BESCOM will told to cut off the electricity supply to the site of the blaze, BBMP will help provide access to buildings and police to regulate the traffic and maintain law and order.

“We want police to divert traffic from the emergency site to avoid piling up of vehicles,” Mr. Pradeep said. The city police will be trained in handling emergencies and will be made aware of what disasters are,” he added.

Is Bangalore ready to reuse?

Is Bangalore ready to reuse?

Staff Reporter

Bangalore: An old music system, an extra telephone set, a table fan you do not use, a computer you have replaced with a new model, a highchair your child has grown out of… How many of these things lie around in your house, stored away in cardboard boxes or gathering dust in your basement? Well this unique e-group could well be the answer to the mounting junk in your house, or even help you find that specific item you have been looking for: group/Bangalore Reuse/.

“BangaloreReuse” has been created by environmental consultant Paul Mundackal in his attempt to find a solution to the environmental crisis created by uncontrolled and often toxic garbage that piles up in the city’s landfills. He believes this networking initiative could go a long way in promoting the concept of “reduce, reuse and recycle”. The group has 38 members now. “We styled ourselves after a similar group in San Diego called Freecycle, which has been a big success,” he says. Freecyle was conceived to “help the environment by diverting useful items from landfills and helping members of our community.”

“That initiative is much larger in scale. Freecycle has over 12,000 members and nearly 50 items are exchanged every day.” These range from new shoes that pinch the owner’s feet but might be good for someone else, things left over from a house remodelling project “…you can take the rest of it”, books and CDs, skis and furniture.

“But here I find that people are reluctant to reuse. New is given a much greater premium even if a used computer or chair is in prefect condition. That attitude needs to change if we have to save the environment,” he says.

Low mercury levels not unusual

Low mercury levels not unusual
DH News Service,Bangalore:

In the last two days, the maximum temperature recorded in the City has been two to three degrees above normal (26 degrees Celsius) and minimum temperature below normal (16 degrees before December 25 and 15 degrees from December 25) by one to four degrees.
The mercury levels dipped as nights are longer by 38 minutes as sun is in the Southern Hemisphere and earth is losing long wave radiation during the night due to clear skies, he said. In the next 48 hours, the minimum temperature will be near normal.
The Meteorological Department officials rubbished reports in a section of the media that temperatures recorded on December 24 were the third coldest in the last 124 years.
The minimum temperature recorded on Tuesday was 11.8 degrees Celsius. There have been a number of days in the past few decades when mercury levels have dipped between 10 degrees and 11 degrees, senior meteorologist Puttanna has said.

MG Road halts in track

MG Road halts in track
DH News Service,Bangalore:
Well, leave alone MG Road, even the adjoining roads cant be used if you are in a real hurry to reach your destination...

The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation’s message board says, “Avoid MG Road as Metro Rail work is on. Use alternative roads.” Well, leave alone MG Road, even the adjoining roads can’t be used if you are in a real hurry to reach your destination.
Of late, slow movement of traffic has become order of the day in the heart of the City, thanks to the ongoing Metro Rail project.
It takes more than 45 minutes to reach Mahatma Gandhi statue from Trinity Circle during off-peak hours.
Similarly, to reach one end of Cubbon Road from the other requires 30 minutes on a normal day. During the peak hours, it takes more than an hour.
The BMRC has taken over some stretches of MG Road (between Brigade Road junction and Mayo Hall junction, Mayo Hall junction and Webb’s petrol bunk junction and Webb’s petrol bunk junction and Kids Kemp) for the Metro Rail project. Nearly half the width of the road (in the middle of the road) has been occupied for the project and barricaded.
What is left for vehicles to pass through near Kids Kemp is just five to six feet of road. When traffic is allowed from Trinity Circle towards MG Road, it resembles a choked funnel.
Rat race
Motorists vie with each other to get through the narrow road. Vehicles move on a single lane, resulting in slow traffic movement. As a cascading effect, traffic on many adjoining roads - Cubbon Road, Residency Road, Old Madras Road, St Mark’s Road and Queen’s Road - are getting clogged.
If it rains or any protest rally is taken out on these roads, traffic comes to a grinding halt.
The problem will only get worse in the coming days as Metro Rail work will be taken up on full scale between Chinnaswamy stadium and Byappanahalli. If the government takes up the proposed high-speed rail works at Police Parade Grounds, the situation will be still worse.
Traffic pile-up
Ditto is the scene on Race Course Road, which is being widened by BBMP. Traffic piles up on the entire stretch of road between Basaveshwara Circle and Race Course entrance during peak hours. Due to movement of loaded tippers, potholes have cropped up on the road. In fact, road-widening work is going on at a very slow pace here.

Is road widening the only allternative ?

Is road widening the only allternative ?
Mavalli - one of the oldest villages of Bangalore City. As Bangalore grew, the village became part of the City. Vehicular movement in the area increased as it is located close to one of the major tourist attractions - Lalbagh.

Mavalli - one of the oldest villages of Bangalore City. As Bangalore grew, the village became part of the City. Vehicular movement in the area increased as it is located close to one of the major tourist attractions - Lalbagh. Gradually shops came into existence, parking for vehicles was allowed and the streets, which were once playgrounds for the children of the locality, became one of the busiest roads of the City.
Lalbagh Fort Road is one such road, which has undergone a metamorphosis over decades. Govindaraju, 55, who has been born and brought up in the locality, fondly remembers his childhood days in the area. “We used to play lagori on the street, which is now occupied by vehicles throughout the day. Then there were hardly any vehicles. We could see only 10-20 vehicles a day. But it changed over the years. Forget playing, even crossing the road is difficult now”.
Govindaraju said that the road was first widened in the early 1980s. Parts of properties facing the road were demolished to pave the way for road widening. “For a few months after the road was widened, we were relieved of traffic jams. As the number of vehicles increased, the situation turned worse,” he said.
The BBMP has identified the road between Lalbagh main gate and Makkala Koota Circle for widening up to 30 metres. The Palike has invited applications for Transferable Development Rights from owners of properties facing the road. The road connects Lalbagh main gate, Minerva Circle and Makkala Koota. The width of the road varies from 16 metres to 20 metres. Increase in vehicular movement on the road has prompted BBMP to identify it for widening.
In a fix
Traffic police have allowed one-side parking to help shopkeepers. Parking for matadors has been provided in front of Lalbagh main gate. Matadors occupy a major portion of the road, creating bottlenecks for vehicularmovement.
Shopkeepers of the road are in a fix. They want free flow of traffic on the road;at the same time they do not want their properties disturbed for this. S V Manjunath has been running his automobile shop on the road for the 15 years. He believes that traffic movement can be made easy even without widening the road. “Traffic police are creating nuisance by allowing parking for matadors. If that is removed, traffic can move easily. There is no need to widen the road,” he said.
The centuries-old Satyamma Devi temple and Madras-E-Furqania are two important religious structures located on the road. Manjunath argued that the Palike cannot take up widening. “The public will not allow the Palike to demolish these structures. Let them think of alternatives to road widening,” he said.
Afzal, who runs a two-wheelers service centre, agrees that widening of the road will help motor riders. “But what about us? My shop is too small. I can’t run my shop if I am asked to surrender even a small portion of it. Why should I lose my earning for the sake of others?” he asked.
Similar is the opinion of Srinivas who was born and brought up in Mavalli. “I am 37 years old. Since the time of my forefathers we have been living here. Over the years, the city grew, but our lifestyle has not improved. My parents lost a portion of the property when the road was first widened. The area of our dwelling place was reduced. With my little earning I could not make property elsewhere. Then where should I go to live?” he questioned.
Commissioner’s orders
BBMP Commissoner S Subramanya has asked the Palike’s engineering division to complete road widening works at the earliest. He gave these instructions after inspecting widening works on Bellary Road.
The Palike has taken up widening of 85 roads, including Palace Road, Sheshadri Road, Race Course Road and Bellary Road. The Commissioner reviewed the road-widening works between Mekhri Circle and Hebbal flyover and asked officers to shift the utility lines immediately in consultation with other civic agencies and complete widening works immediately.

Road for widening
Lalbagh Fort Road
From Lalbagh main gate to Makkala Koota Circle (1.35 km)
Present width: Varies between 16 metres to 20 metres
Proposed width: 30 metres
Important landmarks: Lalbagh main gate, Minerva Circle, KIMS, Makkala Koota
Status: Applications for TDR invited

Fresh survey of vacant govt land

Fresh survey of vacant govt land
By R Krishnakumar,DH News Service,Bangalore:
The Department will take up a fresh survey of vacant government land across the Bangalore Urban district to frame a new land value database for the district.

After feeling the heat over alleged under-bidding during the auctioning of government land in Bangalore, the State Revenue Department is mulling damage control.

The Department will take up a fresh survey of vacant government land across the Bangalore Urban district to frame a new land value database for the district.

A senior department official told Deccan Herald on Wednesday that the survey proposal was among the reasons that triggered an abrupt end to the public auctioning of government land freed from encroachment in Bangalore, early this month. “Through the survey, we propose to demarcate government land in the district in three categories: A (very valuable), B (of moderate value) and C (of low value),” the official said.

The survey is expected to be independent of the existing system of property guidance values, prescribed by the Department of Stamps and Registration. The Revenue Department had drawn criticism over making the government-prescribed guidance values (that are way below the running market rates) as the basis for the auctioning price. The government had brought the auctions to a halt through a directive on December 3.

The district administration will be entrusted with the marking and assessment of land. The land-marking exercise in this connection is tipped to be taken up in the coming months. The official, however, said the survey would be extensive and the department was yet to arrive at a timeframe and deadlines. The officials maintained that the auctions had been stopped only “temporarily”. However, the developers and individuals who have confirmed the bids will have to wait before they can take absolute possession of the land.

“We are refunding bidders who have won auctions that didn’t fetch the expected price. Those who have confirmed bids to their names will have to wait,” Shantappa, Special Deputy Commissioner (Enforcement) said.
Around 600 acres of land have been auctioned so far, with the total bid amount exceeding Rs 600 crore. The fate of these winning bids will also depend on a Public Interest Litigation filed in the Karnataka High Court against the auctions. The PIL will be heard next in the first week of January.


* Three land categories mooted, based on values
* Survey to be independent of guidance values
* Auction of govt land freed from encroachment stopped only temporarily
* Over 600 acres of land auctioned so far

Beware, litter cops are watching

Beware, litter cops are watching
By S Lalitha ,DH News Service,Bangalore:
These litter cops will levy spot fines ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 1,000, depending on the nature of the offence committed.

As part of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s efforts to bring about a cleaner City, 60 “litter cops” have been appointed to rein in littering public on four major commercial thoroughfares.

These “litter cops” will levy spot fines ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 1,000, depending on the nature of the offence committed.

Kempe Gowda Road, M G Road, Cubbon Road and Commercial Street are the thoroughfares which these cops will be patrolling within a fortnight, official sources told Deccan Herald. “Misusing water meant for drinking, urinating in public, throwing garbage around, spitting/expectorating and allowing pet animals to mess around are aspects these cops will be monitoring very keenly,” they said.

Dustbins will be placed every 100 metres on these streets to ensure that the public has a proper garbage disposal system in place.

“The cops will be equipped with a handycam each to record the behaviour of the public so that the charges won’t be disputed,” the sources said. They will also have special uniforms bearing BBMP logos.

BBMP officials will be around to assist them in their work, the sources said.

The team will be empowered to issue show-cause notice to shopkeepers as well as individuals who do not abide by rules. There are plans to increase the number of “litter cops” to cover 200 commercial streets in the City at a later stage.

A Bangalore-based agency, Major Territorial Army, headed by B N Nandukumar, a retired army man, has been awarded the contract.

The provision for penalty has been made under the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1996 Sec 431 Schedule (1). Citizens who violate the rule can be booked for cognisable offence under KMC Act 478 and Compounding of Offence Rules 1996.

Road work to new airport sluggish

Road work to new airport sluggish
Wednesday December 26 2007 09:13 IST

Express News Service

Buy/Sell/Rent Property of your Choice in your City.

Dream partner find now

BANGALORE: The ambitious Devanahalli International Airport is set to become operational in about two months, but the road connectivity still poses a question mark. Works on the whole stretch from Hebbal Road to NH-7 have been progressing at a snail’s pace.

The two roads taken up by Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on a priority basis are the Bellary Road and Race Course Road. They are being widened and also connect with the BMRDA’s expressway.

The projects are supposed to be completed by March 2008, according to the BBMP. From the Minsk Square to Hebbal Flyover, the BBMP has identified seven junctions viz Windsor Manor Bridge, BDA Junction, Cauvery Junction, CBI Junction, Sanjaynagar Junction apart from Maharani’s College and KR Circle which will become signal- free by March 2008 for smooth flow of traffic heading towards the airport.

Work on the service roads are expected to be completed by March 2008, as per the traffic plan devised. Windsor Manor Bridge: The existing road is to be converted to a six-lane road with land that has already been taken over from the Golf Club.

The cost of the project is about Rupee one crore and a duration of about seven days. The six-lane road is expected to enable motorists a trouble free travel changing lanes.

BDA Junction: The ramp construction at this junction will cost about Rs 2.5 crore and will take about 45 days to complete. Two long up and down ramps will be made on the Hebbal Main Road and two box underpasses will be constructed to allow vehicles to move towards Malleshwaram.

Cauvery Junction: A pre-set box will be introduced at this junction to allow vehicles from Bhashyam Circle to join Hebbal Road and move towards the city.

CBI Junction and Sanjaynagar Junction: At these junctions, underpasses will be erected.

Get ready to shiver, for city temperature may fall further

Get ready to shiver, for city temperature may fall further
Wednesday December 26 2007 09:11 IST

Express News Service

Buy/Sell/Rent Property of your Choice in your City.

Dream partner find now

BANGALORE: The faithful who attended the midnight mass on Christmas Eve and revellers out on the road experienced the coldest night of the metro in the past seven years.

On December 24, the City Meteorological Department recorded a minimum temperature of 11.8 degrees C, the lowest minimum temperature of the year.

However, the lowest temperature of a decade, 11.5 degrees C, was recorded on December 14, 2000. Weather experts say that the dip in temperature is not unusual during December, due mainly to the northerly winds.

The temperature is likely to drop further. The average maximum temperature recorded during day was around 24 degrees C whereas it “drops to 11 degrees C during night.”

This is likely to continue till January. Speaking to this website's newspaper, City Meteorological Department Director G S Vijayaraghavan said the temperature had dropped even below the lowest minimum temperature of 16 years, 12.7 degrees C, recorded on November 15, 2007.

Since earth’s surface radiates heat during evening, the temperatures dip during evenings and early morning hours. This dip in temperature creates a cooling effect, he said.

He also pointed that on December 29, 1883, the lowest temperature recorded was 8.9 degrees C after which the lowest minimum temperature was recorded was in 2000 and 2007.

The lowest- ever temperature recorded by the City Met office was 7.8 degrees C on January 13, 1884.

New Bangalore airport raises another worry: getting there

New Bangalore airport raises another worry: getting there
Anjuli Bhargava / New Delhi December 27, 2007
A 2- to 3-hour commute is in store once the HAL facility closes.

Apart from air pollution, poor infrastructure and a wobbly state administration, Bangalore has a new worry from March — how to leave town and get back to it once the new Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) opens its doors and the existing HAL airport on Airport Road shuts its doors.

On a relaxed Sunday with minimum traffic, the drive from the centre of the town (Vidhan Souda) to the new airport (a distance of around 35 km) takes a minimum of 55 minutes.

On a busy office day, it could take two hours.

From Electronics City (home of Infosys and other tech giants) at the other end of the town, it will take over three hours. The drive after the Hebbal flyover is quite clear; it’s getting till there that’s a challenge.

“It’s a sad state of affairs,” says GR Gopinath, vice-chairman of Kingfisher Airlines, who feels that the state government should never have agreed to close the old airport until the accessibility of the new facility was improved.

Unlike Hyderabad — where access is a problem that’s being tackled — the lack of governance in Karnataka is ensuring that no steps are being taken in this direction.

The fact is that the airport authorities — again, unlike in Hyderabad — find their hands tied and are unable to offer much solace to passengers, who now await the long-anticipated opening with dread.

As much is evident from the emailed reply BIAL sent to a questionnaire by Business Standard on what is being done to improve access.

“BIAL is responsible for building the new Bangalore Airport at Devanahalli. We have now also taken into our scope the Trumpet Interchange. This interchange will connect NH7 to the airport and will be ready for the airport opening date,” the reply said.

However, in terms of improving access to the airport, the reply said “the implementation of such projects lies with the government of Karnataka and is not in the scope of BIAL”.

The company refers the matter further to the government, which at present is in a state of suspended animation.

This state of affairs is giving industry jitters. Companies like Wipro and Infosys have figured out that it will take their executives close to three hours to reach the airport on a regular working day from their present campuses.

“I’d love to claim that we will use the road as an alternate means of travel but that’s easier said than done,” said an official based at Infosys campus on Hosur Road.

His argument is that most of their executives catch flights primarily to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai (about eight hours by road) or overseas — none of which can be done by road.

Industry leaders in the state like Kiran Shaw Mazumdar and Nandan Nilekani have been using every possible forum to highlight this growing concern, saying that executives can’t stop travelling altogether.

Certainly, short-haul markets will take a beating — airline CEOs are quite prepared for that — but one can hardly make it for a meeting in Delhi or Mumbai by road. Yet travelling three hours to take a 90-minute flight is nobody’s idea of good connectivity.

Roy K Cherian, CEO of Marketelligent, a start-up in the analytics field, which is currently incubating out of IIM, Bangalore, said this issue will dramatically complicate matters for his fledging organisation, which relies on its staff travelling regularly in and out of the city.

IIM, Bangalore, is at least three hours from the new proposed airport. “Any travel in and out will eat up our entire day, if one includes the air travel time, road travel time and the one hour earlier check-in time requirements,” he said.

Civil aviation secretary Ashok Chawla said his ministry is getting more and more representations from all categories of people in the state, saying that the old facility must not completely down its shutters till some of these issues are resolved.

Vijay Mallya, chairman of UB group and promoter of Kingfisher Airlines, is putting his might behind this idea.

But keeping HAL open is not practicable because it will ruin the economics of the new airport. Said Chawla: “I don’t know whether it’s because the deadline for closure is coming closer but people in both the cities — Hyderabad and Bangalore — seem to have woken up to the new reality and are not sure they are happy with it.”

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Civil aviation on a high Anshul Dhamija | TNN

Civil aviation on a high Anshul Dhamija | TNN
Bangalore looks set to fly high on the back of India’s aviation boom. Not only is the Silicon City the chosen hub for domestic and international carriers, it could soon also be the country’s backbone in aviation engineering and services.
The central government’s offset policy is expected to bring aviation offshoring deals worth over $10 billion to the country in the next couple of years, and much of that is expected to come to Bangalore.
Under the offset policy, any purchase order by a defence entity or stateowned civilian carrier from a foreign firm will have to ensure an offset or reinvestment of at least 30% of the order value. The reinvestment by foreign firms can either be through procurement of components and services from India or via direct investment.
According to Kapil Kaul, CEO (India) of Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), “Bangalore will get over 70% of these offshoring deals. Most of these engagements will be in IT support solutions, software development, avionics and engineering areas.’’
Facilitating this huge inflow of funds is the proposed 1,500-acre aviation SEZ near the upcoming international airport at Devanahalli. According to senior bureaucrats, the process of identifying land is underway and a final decision would be taken in the next six months.
Karnataka will also see investments close to Rs 1,500 crore in the setting up of MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) facilities. While Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s Jupiter Aviation is investing Rs 500 crore to set up an aircraft maintenance and modification facility at Hassan, Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher-Deccan plans to set up a Rs 300-crore MRO facility at Devanahalli.
All this action is partly the result of Bangalore’s historic connection with aviation and aviation technology, following the establishment of HAL, and partly the result of the more recent surge of passenger traffic growth from and into the city. Bangalore reported a 40% growth in international passenger traffic in the one year between September 2006 and August 2007 as per the Airports Authority of India.
That’s the highest in the country and more than double the all India average growth of 16%.


Pollution board needs powers to take action
H C Sharathchandra believes effective implementation is the key to reduce pollution

We have allowed Bangalore to grow beyond its limit, thereby resulting in gross violation of the Town and Country Planning Act. Developing agencies have to plan for the growth of the city in its entirety, while planning resources should reach new extensions. The various implementing agencies are to be held responsible for not dispensing their duties properly. There has been no introspection in the past 20 years.
Despite KSPCB directing the Bangalore Development Authority to incorporate specifications, including aspects like buffer zones, it hasn’t. Residential houses and colonies are very close to industrial areas, which shouldn’t be the case.
It’s a known fact that Bangalore’s roads are narrow, but the traffic department has done little to effectively implement laning systems that will improve
fuel efficiency. Public transport should be promoted aggressively, but on the other hand, the number of government vehicles should be brought down substantially. It’s time IT companies provided buses to ferry their employees, discouraging the use of private vehicles. The traffic department has ironically not checked noise pollution, which goes hand-in-hand with checking vehicular pollution.
Sanitation is not only the biggest problem, but it’s the gravest issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has to pull up its socks and start setting up more sewage treatment plants (STPs) apart from tertiary treatment plants, across the city. Only 60% of the city’s areas have STPs, but even these hardly serve the purpose, for most of the sewage is let into lakes after being partially treated. Corrective action should be taken at the upper catchment areas. Also, most STPs need to be replaced as they are very old, while treated waste water can be used for construction purposes and BWSSB can use this as a selling point. Privatization of lakes should not be taken into consideration at all.
Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has to take up waste disposal on a war footing. It is pertinent to identify more number of landfills, as waste needs to be disposed of in a decentralized fashion. The Palike should also focus on segregating waste, while apartment builders must agree to a sale condition whereby they have to turn waste into compost. The issue needs to be tackled at the source.
KSPCB has been pressing for magisterial powers; lack of empowerment to take immediate action has posed a major problem. KSPCB’s action is mostly restricted to issuing notices alone.
Most importantly, the lack of civic sense among citizens is not helping matters. Indians have an attitude problem which needs to be overcome. Awareness and education have become the need of the hour. Everyone talks about constraints, but very few take the initiative to step forward and contribute.
(H C Sharathchandra is chairman, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board) FEEDBACK
Follow lane discipline
If heavy vehicles in Bangalore take the left lane and allow small vehicles to use the right lane, the traffic situation will be much better. Do not allow buses to overtake, else the right lane will be choked and this is the main reason for traffic jams. This has been implemented in New Delhi and it works well. Hope this helps. | Ashish Nair, via e-mail
Impose heavy penalty
There is a visible change in the traffic pattern in Hebbal’s outer ring road after road lanes were demarcated. Hefty penalty should be imposed on those who don’t follow lane discipline. Put notice boards detailing penalty amount of at least Rs 1,000 on the median in three languages so that outstation trucks and other vehicles maintain road discipline. Now, even a cyclist or an auto driver can hold up traffic at their will. Also, fine BMTC drivers who don’t bother to stop close to the kerb. | Reji John, Nagawara EXPERTSPEAK

There needs to be a monitoring agency which maintains a reporting system by all implementing agencies. The city’s problems need to be managed in a sustainable fashion, where the individual roles are well defined. The sanitation scenario in Bangalore was pathetic four years ago. BWSSB has, however, started addressing this aspect and the situation is not so grim today. There is an urgency to plan for the next 20 years, but unfortunately all mechanisms are being tried and tested for today. There needs to be a forum where there is provision for intensive dialogue with users as well.

Fuel adulteration should be stopped, while all vehicles should be checked and monitored regularly for vehicular pollution. The thrust should be on laning system, for it will improve fuel efficiency. There has been much talk about car pooling, but this too has not been put into effect. Diesel and luxury cars and vehicles need to be taxed heavily, which will help earn more revenue. Ground water can be recharged easily, and all that the BBMP has to do is make provision to channelise and collect run-off water at the end of each road. BWSSB can also subsidise water bills, wherever rain water harvesting has been implemented effectively. The onus for disposal of waste is on the BBMP alone. This needs to be shifted to the manufacturer also through the Extended Product Responsibility (EPR) module, where manufacturers will be held responsible for managing waste.