Sunday, March 09, 2008

Will FM solve the woes of Citys infrastructure?

Will FM solve the woes of Citys infrastructure?
By P M Raghunandan,DH News Service,Bangalore:
Ever-congested, pothole-ridden roads, drinking water scarcity and lack of basic civic amenities are the biggest challenges the city has been facing.

Political parties, especially the Congress, feel shy of talking about improving urban infrastructure facilities. More so now, with elections round the corner. If such hesitation is reflected by Union Minister P Chidambaram when he presents the budget for Karnataka on Monday, there might not be much good news for Bangalore, whose image has taken a beating in terms of infrastructure.
Ever-congested, pothole-ridden roads, drinking water scarcity and lack of basic civic amenities are the biggest challenges the city has been facing.
Though a number of mega projects like the metro rail and integrated townships have been lined up to the address traffic problem on a long-term basis, very little is being done to provide immediate relief to motorists. Even the Chief Secretary recently admitted that the IT City is earning bad name due to its choked roads.
Due to paucity of funds, utility agencies like BBMP and BDA are working at a snail’s pace, implementing flyover and underpass projects that were planned a decade ago (underpasses at Malleswaram, Yeshwanthpur, Vijayanagar Tollgate and Tagore circle were planned several years ago). After waiting in vain for years for financial assistance from the Government, the BBMP and BDA finally undertook these projects under the JNNURM.
The JD(S)-BJP combine in the previous budget (2007-08) had just applied a soothing balm to aggrieved Bangaloreans: It was shown that around Rs 1,500 crore was earmarked for Bangalore infrastructure.
But in reality, 90 per cent of the funds were just mandatory allocations that the Government had already committed to -for ongoing projects like Metro Rail (Rs 172 crore), Devanahalli international airport (Rs 137 crore), Cauvery IV Stage and Phase II (Rs 415 crore).The only surprise the previous budget sprung was an ambitious tunnel road project between Minsk Square and Hebbal flyover. But it has not moved an inch forward. (it is now unofficially said that the project has been scrapped).

Poor civic services
The previous Government had taken it as a prestige issue to merge eight ULBs with the city to form the Bruhat Bangalore. Thus BBMP’s jurisdiction spread to 741 sq kms from 225 sq kms. But the bigger Bangalore got just a small amount (Rs 150 crore).
With this amount, the BBMP has not been able to even equip itself by setting up offices, let alone provide quality services to citizens.
The BBMP’s total outlay is around Rs 3,000 crore. A conservative estimate puts the Palike’s requirement for asphalting and maintenance of roads alone at Rs 2,000 crore! In addition it needs around Rs 200 crore for solid waste management.
This is the specific reason as to why the newly added areas still resemble villages, while also looking like a part of the city because they have huge buildings.
There are no asphalted roads, proper pavements, drinking water supply underground drainage or street lights. Ditto the state of the BDA layouts. Whether it is Banashankari IV stage, Visvesvaraya Layout or Anjanapura Layout, there are no proper basic amenities.
It may be too much to hope that all the ills of Bangalore would be addressed in the coming budget. But if the government reflects its concern to make the city a livable one, then it would be a positive


* More funds for infrastructure
* Proposed high-speed rail to new airport may get mention and fund allocation
* Proposed elevated inner ring road
* Adequate fund allocation for newly-added areas of BBMP
* Proposed new BDA layouts may also figure
* Fund allocations to several ongoing projects


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