Thursday, July 31, 2008


Prashanth G N | TNN

Bangalore: Satellite imagery has provided concrete proof that Bangalore is no longer a green city. A systematic study of land use and environment over six years (from 2000 to 2006) by researcher H S Sudhira of IISc shows that the city’s green cover, including vegetation of all forms, has been declining over the past six years.
The decline is an average of 30 sqkm annually, that’s 180 sqkm in six years. Correspondingly, built-up area has increased by 61.6% — from 186.42 sqkm to 301.27 sqkm and vegetation in and around the city has declined from 859.24 sqkm to 684.85 sqkm.
The city is adding roughly 20 sqkm of built-up area/ paved surface annually and losing up to 20% of green, vegetation area. If water bodies are taken as part of green cover, Bangalore is losing 23.7% of these bodies annually, that’s 1.7 sqkm a year.
“I’ve used ISRO’s national remote sensing satellites, which can cover vast areas intensely and accurately. In six years, Bangalore’s topography and land use has undergone a perceptible change — the builtup area has gone up and green cover has come down,” he said.
The silver lining is that forest patches in Bangalore Urban have not shrunk, though this is protected green cover as against unprotected green cover that was the focus of the study. There are 25 patches that occupy about 5,868 hectares in 1,306 sq km. In the last seven years, there has not been much change in the size of these patches, largely because no one is permitted to encroach or take over those patches.
The Forest Survey of India indicates that Bangalore region as a whole has 7.94% area classified as forest area i.e. of 2,190 sqkm, 164 sqkm in Bangalore is forest area — that does not include trees and small vegetation coming under the purview of BBMP.
“This 7.94% according to satellite imagery has fortunately remained constant. We need to preserve this at least,” say forest officials.
BBMP tree officer M R Suresh acknowledges that the green cover is coming down. “Land prices are so high in Bangalore that everyone is vying to give land for construction. Who will give land for greenery? What do we do for roads being widened? If there is another way out to accommodate the high number of new vehicles every year, BBMP would gladly keep all the trees. We will, however, take up planting at alternative sites.”
No of forest patches in BDA Planning area, inclusive of BBMP within Bangalore Urban — 25
25 patches across 5,868 hectares in 1,306 sqkm of Bangalore Urban
The city is adding 20 sqkm of built-up area annually and losing up to 20 per cent of green area

BUS! Flights are expensive

BUS! Flights are expensive
Demand For Luxury Bus Travel Zooms; Tickets Up By 10 Per Cent
Anshul Dhamija & Swati Anand | TNN

Bangalore: With air fares soaring to greater heights each day, luxury bus travel on regional short-haul routes has taken off.
Luxury coaches, which comprise mainly Volvo and other air-conditioned buses, have witnessed a phenomenal growth of 30% in the last month, while the airlines saw a 15% to 20% dip in passenger traffic.
Adding to the buoyancy, bus operators have increased their fares on routes like Bangalore-Chennai, Bangalore-Hyderabad and Chennai-Hyderabad.
“Bus operators have increased their prices on the hitherto prime air travel routes by 10% as bus sales have shot up by more than 25% on these routes,” says Amit Aggarwal, CTO of Flightraja Travels.
Usually this is considered a low season for bus travel as the monsoon has set in, with bus operators traditionally dropping fares by 10% to 15%.
“But this monsoon, there has been no slump. In fact, we’ve seen particularly high growth in the Mumbai-Bangalore, Mumbai-Hyderabad, Bangalore-Chennai and Pune-Ahmedabad segment. On the trunk Bangalore-Chennai route alone, we’ve seen 35%- 40% growth in the last month. On an average we are witnessing a 25% month-on-month growth,” said Phanindra Sama, co-founder of, a site for bus ticket booking.
TOI had earlier reported that the profitable Bangalore-Chennai sector had witnessed a 20% drop in air ticket sales. The ticket prices have risen between 10% and 15% due to the ATF price rise. At present the price of a one-way Bangalore-Chennai ticket averages to Rs 4,100. A bus ticket on this route would be Rs 500-Rs 550 — about one-fifth the price of an air ticket.
Besides, a number of airlines like Paramount Airways and Spice Jet have trimmed their frequencies on this sector as the load factor had dropped by 50%.
Travel agents say Bangalore particularly has seen a 30% drop in air passenger traffic on short-haul routes and a 10%-15% drop in traffic on domestic long-haul routes from Bangalore. has reported an overall 15% dip in air travel from last month. “While long-haul flights have seen a 12% dip, short-haul have seen a 20% dip. The change has been particularly dramatic on the Bangalore-Chennai and Delhi-Jaipur routes,” says Dhruv Shringi, founder of the travel portal.
In the coming months, people can look forward to more travel packages from bus operators. “Our focus now is very strong on bus and train since these are the future segments of growth,” Shringi says.
Aggarwal adds that with demand for luxury coaches on the rise, bus operators would be forced to add additional capacity. “Around a year ago, our break-up in passenger travel was 50% non-AC and 50% AC and luxury buses. But now, almost 70% of our travellers prefer luxury buses,” says Sama.
Bus services are improving their overall standards to welcome the new set of passengers. “We’re in talks with all the branded bus operators to chart out a road guarantee formula, where by passengers would be assured of complete safety, on-time performance and other benefits as many people — particularly air travellers — still have apprehension of commuting by bus,” said an industry expert.

End to all new hoardings

End to all new hoardings

Bangalore: There will be no new hoardings in the city in the near future. Even the current ones will last only till the validity of their licences expire.
The order passed last Thursday had cut-outs, hoardings and flex posters of popular leaders in and around Vidhana Soudha cleared within a day’s time.
The latest government advertisement extends this prohibition to all areas under the BBMP limits and not just the areas like Kumara Krupa Road, Raj Bhavan Road, Ambedkar Road, Post Office Road, Basaveshwara Circle, Maharani’s College Road, K R Circle, Cubbon Park and Lalbagh.
While the removal of banners around the secretariat took less than a day, the same process in all areas might take some time because everybody has to be notified within a reasonable period before actually bringing down all the hoarding in the city.
However, BBMP officials said that work in this direction has begun with no licences renewed or issued since July 25 and that they would implement this policy with all stringent measures now until the new advertisement policy is finalized.

Race Course must shift by 2010

Race Course must shift by 2010

Bangalore: After dithering for many years, the state government has finally set a deadline of December 2009 for shifting the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC), better known as the Race Course, to the city’s outskirts.
Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, replying to the budget discussions in the legislative assembly on Wednesday, said the agreement signed by BTC with the government expires on Dec 31, 2009. “The government will not renew it. By that time, the Race Course has to shift,’’ he added.
However, the government is yet to identify land for relocating the BTC, though various options have been announced in the past. Yeddyurappa said the shift had become imperative as the Race Course was causing traffic congestion. He was also critical of the public works department for allowing races to be held without signing any contract with the BTC for the past 19 years.
“The PWD should have taken note of this. Only after I took a firm stand in the House recently, an agreement was signed on July 26 which will end on December 31, 2009. Come what may, the BTC will be shifted this time.’’

HC on traffic snarls

HC on traffic snarls
DH News Service, Bangalore:
Acting Chief Justice Deepak Verma of Karnataka on Wednesday expressed his ire over the traffic situation in Bangalore.

“I come to the court by 9.30 am everyday, almost one hour advance. I start early in the morning because I can be delayed due to traffic jam in the City. I am caught in traffic snarls at least once everyday,” he said.
His remarks came while hearing a PIL opposing the magic boxes that is triggering traffic chaos in the city.
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed by a former Syndicate member of the Bangalore University K L Bhagavan.

The petitioner said that the magic boxes are unmagical as they are hindering traffic instead of solving the chaotic traffic.

Not useful
He requested the High Court that there should be regular underpasses in place of the magic boxes. Giving an example of the poor traffic situation at the Cauvery Junction, the petitioner said the magic boxes are not serving the purpose.

Set up a panel
He also said that the government or the BBMP should constitute a committee of think tanks comprising engineers, architects and scientists who can suggest the best ways for the easy flow of traffic in Bangalore City.
The Court has issued a notice to the BBMP Commissioner in this regard.

CMH road work to begin next week

CMH road work to begin next week
DH News Service, Bangalore:
The City Traffic Police will implement the traffic diversion plan of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) on CMH Road from next week.

BMRCL that was supposed to commence barricading the CMH Road in Indiranagar to begin construction of piers/ viaducts of the ‘Namma Metro’ project from Monday has postponed the commencement of work by a few days.

DCP (Traffic) K Srinivas told Deccan Herald that the police have requested for marshals/personnel from the BMRCL to help assist traffic cops once the new restrictions are in place. “The traffic plan is ready to be implemented. But signboards are being made to have them installed for the benefit of the motorists and the public. Once this is ready, We will immediately implement the plan” Srinivas added.

Road widening
BMRCL sources said, the plan was supposed to be implemented from 28 July, but was put off due to the road widening, installation of new streetlights and asphalting work taking place. “It will be implemented from next week” explained officials.

Meanwhile, another private property (Citi Bank) ATM was demolished on the CMH Road here on Wednesday to pave way for the construction.

Till date the BMRCL has demolished close to ten private properties on Reach 1, whose owners have handed over possession for the project and accepted compensation awarded by
Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board.

Bangalore malls tighten security to lure back customers

Bangalore malls tighten security to lure back customers
Bangalore, PTI:
Many of the prominent malls have reviewed security measures while others have sought to invest in equipment that could help prevent untoward incidents and deal with any eventuality.

The last week's serial blasts, which affected business in some of the leading city malls, have prompted managements of the shopping-cum-entertainment complexes here to take additional measures and invest in hi-tech equipment, to scale up security and to lure back customers.

The city has recently witnessed mushrooming of malls with some being dedicated to middle-class consumers while others targeting up-market sections and still others the luxury brand segment.

With the malls witnessing stiff competition, many of the prominent ones have reviewed security measures while others have sought to invest in equipment that could help prevent untoward incidents and deal with any eventuality.

The security measures adopted vary from employing the services of trained officials (those with armed forces background and commandos) to impart training to their staff towards putting security cordons in place.

Physical checks, intensified patrolling, use of sniffer dogs, electronic detector systems and round-the-clock monitoring have become the norm of the day at these malls that attract huge numbers of people especially during the evening.

The number of people doubled on weekends and jumped up significantly on festivals or special days like the Valentine's Day, Friendship Day, Mother's, Father's Day or during theme-based festivals or discount weeks, organised regularly.

The importance of security at the malls was highlighted when two bombs exploded in the nearby locality of a popular mall located in the city. Rumours of explosions being triggered at one or two of the popular malls also did the rounds, contributing to panic and chaos on July 25.
While most of the malls tried not to spread the panic in the aftermath of the blasts on Friday, others tried to reassure customers and retailers running stores on their premises that the malls had been checked and declared safe.

"We asked retailers not to close shops", an official of Forum said.

Alarmed after the Friday blasts, Col (retd) Kuriakose, an ex-armed force personnel working with the Bangalore Central Mall, recalling an incident, said, "We found that one of the parked vehicles had something smelling of petrol. We immediately traced the owner, who informed us that his quilt had just been returned after dry cleaning! But we were taking no chances".

At Garuda Mall, which registers over 25,000 visitors on an average on weekdays and over 75,000 on weekends, the outside boundary was immediately sealed and the entire premises checked to detect presence of any explosive material.

Forum Mall, one of the popular malls that attract nearly 80,000 visitors on special occasions and around 65,000 on weekends and over 35,000 on weekdays, has gone for a special 'bomb blanket', which will be used to defuse an unexploded explosive device.

Bangalore Central Mall is planning to invest in a vapour detector which could help sniff out any harmful chemicals and prevent them from entering the premises. "It is an expensive device, but we plan to have it soon," Kuriakose said.

Sniffer dogs have been pressed into service to prevent any suspicious objects lying around. "At Bangalore Central, we have the sniffer dogs doing the rounds of the mall twice in a day," he said.

At Forum, sniffer dogs were pressed into service on Saturday and Sunday after the blasts and would be deployed again on a regular basis, the official added.

Garbage disposal continues to haunt BBMP

Garbage disposal continues to haunt BBMP
Thursday July 31 2008 09:51 IST

Express News Service

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BANGALORE: Garbage disposal is not a new problem to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

With the Karnataka Compost Development Corporation Ltd (KCDC) downing its shutters a few months ago, the BBMP was relieved with a new dump near Doddballapur. However, the BBMP is in trouble again - this time with the villagers near Doddballapur have been protesting against the dumping.

BBMP sources said that a meeting was called for on Wednesday evening, to discuss the issue and arrive at a solution. However, it was decided that the BBMP would divert 50 more lorry loads of garbage towards the Mavallipuram landfill, where the BBMP already dumps 50 lorry loads.

Speaking to the this website's newspaper, a senior BBMP official said that the Palike was making efforts to find a solution to the problem, and that dumping garbage in Doddballapur landfill would resume after talks with the villagers.

On the other hand, garbage contractors have been pressuring the Palike to provide police protection, especially after villagers recently attacked the lorry drivers who were on their way to the Doddballapur dump, following which the dumping activity had to be put on hold.

However, with officials now planning to send 100 lorries of garbage to Mavallipuram, the remaining 300-odd lorries will have to go nowhere.

BDA’s land acquisition for Hi-Tech City quashed

BDA’s land acquisition for Hi-Tech City quashed
Thursday July 31 2008 10:00 IST

Express News Service

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BANGALORE: The High Court, on Wednesday, quashed the BDA notification for the acquisition of land for the proposed Hi-Tech City around Bangalore.

The Court ruled that BDA had no power to acquire the land for industrial purposes.

Justice Hulavadi G Ramesh quashed the preliminary and final notification issued by the BDA in 2003 and 2005 respectively.

Allowing the writ petition of C Ramesh and others challenging the notification, the Court said that only the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) has the power to acquire land for industrial purposes.

BDA had acquired 1,522 acres at Bellandur, Kulkondanahalli, Dalla Kunneli, Junna Sandra, Kasavanahalli, Parappana Agrahara, Konappana Agrahara, Naganathapura and Kudlu for the Hi-Tech City.

The petitioner challenged the notification stating that since the land was meant for industrial purposes it had to be acquired by the KIADB.

Blasts: Garden city turns gizmo land

Blasts: Garden city turns gizmo land

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Following Friday’s blasts, demand for security equipment has jumped 40 per cent with dealers vying to meet the sudden increase in requests for various security apparatus in the city.

Sale of hand-held bomb detectors, door metal detectors and under-vehicle scanners has gone up sharply over the last few days. The buyers range from government departments, individuals and commercial establishments, to private firms and even security agencies.

The metal detectors cost between Rs 6,000 and Rs 10,000, while the under vehicle scanners are priced at Rs 8,000. The door metal detectors can cost anywhere up to Rs 50,000.

“Over the last two years these gizmos have been in demand in the Silicon Valley. But the recent blasts in the city have prompted many corporate houses and a wide range of customers to opt for gizmos that can come in handy in preventing any untoward incident.

Over the last four days the sale of such gadgets has shot up by 40 per cent,” said Mr Shivaraj Pattanshetty, chairman of Century Solutions, a dealer in security related products.

He says, the top selling products are manufactured in Bengaluru, while some are imported from Israel, Australia and Malaysia.

“We have also received orders from the Mysore Police for door metal detectors,” he revealed.

Mr Mahesh Bhan, security product dealer, said his firm had seen a sudden spurt in inquiries. Wedding halls too are looking at the option of screening their entry and exit points.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bumpy landing for Bangalore's airport dream

Bumpy landing for Bangalore's airport dream

Leave three hours to get there…
By Saritha Rai

Published: 30 July 2008 11:28 BST

There were high hopes for Bangalore's multimillion dollar air hub, which opened in May. But locating it in a near wilderness without a decent road was not a great start, says Saritha Rai.

Raghu Shenoy, chief executive of a small Bangalore IT services firm, thinks nothing of jumping on a plane to see a client. If a customer wants a face-to-face meeting, Shenoy will be in Europe in less than 24 hours.

But he quails at the prospect of using Bangalore's new international airport. Even the businesses that lobbied for its creation are hardly breaking out the champagne.

For a start, despite a decade of planning, no one appears to have thought about how to reach the glass-and-steel structure. The $620m airport opened at the end of May, apparently in the middle of nowhere and without a new road link.

Shenoy's company has its headquarters in the gigantic Electronics City, a pristine suburban technology park, where neighbours include India's leading outsourcing companies such as Infosys Technologies and Wipro.

From Electronics City, the 65km trip to the airport can take three hours, outstripping the charge on most laptop batteries.

While top executives can use the expensive helicopter ferry service launching soon, others are obliged to factor in a five-hour lead time before boarding even 30- to 50-minute short-haul flights to neighbouring tech cities such as Chennai and Hyderabad.

Shenoy gets all the way to London from Bangalore in about twice the time his colleagues take to travel to the airport to catch a domestic flight.

The new airport was first conceived 17 years ago, when Bangalore was not even a blip on the globalisation map. In the past decade, as the government dithered monumentally, the city has turned into a verb - being "Bangalored" means your job is being offshored - and air traffic to and from the city had grown some 300 per cent, far above initial projections.

Dozens of multinationals such as Google, HSBC, IBM, Microsoft and Tesco have large operations in the city.

This year, some 11 million passengers will fly in and out of the airport and the technology outsourcing industry will account for a chunk of that.

Yet if air traffic growth has been fuelled by the business traveller, why is the new airport located in near wilderness, far from these businesses?

But then nothing has come easily for the technology industry in Bangalore. For want of a public transport system in the city, companies such as Wipro and Infosys run a fleet of hundreds of private buses to ferry employees to the workplace and back.

Faced with Bangalore's notorious power shutdowns, many run their own power-generating plants.

When hotel rooms in the city got scarce and exorbitant, some IT companies set up hotels on campus for their visitors. To spare thousands of their employees from getting stuck in the never-ending traffic jams that choke the arterial road taking them to Electronics City, companies are chipping in to fund the government's project to build an elevated expressway.

And yet, for businesses that pushed for the new airport, the frustrations are endless. For the best part of the ride to the airport, commuters have to jostle with fume-spewing three-wheelers, bikes, buses, cyclists and, as in most Indian cities, the odd stray animal.

Once out of the city and on to the speedier highway, drivers have to watch for pedestrians - workers from factories, inhabitants of the villages dotting the fringes of the expressway - darting across the high-speed stretch.

Traffic police work the route, not directing traffic but stopping pedestrians from hurtling into the path of vehicles speeding towards the airport.

The airport's swanky façade is attracting oglers from nearby villages, all trying to peer through the glass. Inside, commuters are less impressed.

When Shenoy arrived at the airport last month to board a night flight to London, he found the business class lounge overflowing even at midnight. Passengers have plenty of complaints: the aerobridges don't work, the wi-fi goes on and off, and the lavatories smell.

Certainly, the new facility is an improvement on the embarrassment that was Bangalore's old airport. In the words of a frequent traveller, it resembled a Greyhound bus station in a US town rather than an airport.

The airport was so cramped that the wait to clear immigration and customs and to retrieve baggage was interminable. Travellers eventually found their way out, only to be hounded by private taxi operators who fell on them like a pack of wolves.

The new airport with its 53 check-in counters and 2,500-vehicle car park is an improvement. But commuting three hours for a 40-minute flight is no one's idea of good connectivity. Harried techies are clamouring for the old airport to be reopened at least for domestic flights.

Bangalore's airport was conceived so it could give this otherwise gung-ho tech city an infrastructure edge and signal a change in its dodgy traffic and transport systems.

Now, the local talk is that it's only a matter of time before even obscure Chinese cities, wannabe Bangalores, plan and pull off better airports.

ID cards for all, CCTVs in public places

ID cards for all, CCTVs in public places
Tuesday July 29 2008 04:15 IST

Express News Service

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BANGALORE: Compulsory identity cards for residents of major cities in the State, tighter norms for renting out houses to strangers, electronic eyes to keep an eye on mischievous elements in public places. These are among the government’s plans to tighten security following the serial blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

Announcing this in Legislative Assembly during the reply to a debate on the security scenario, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa sought co-operation of all political parties to implement some tough measures to crush terrorism in the State.

The State Government is considering issue of compulsory identity cards for residents in prominent cities in the State, norms for renting out houses to strangers would be tightened, a close watch would be kept through closed circuit cameras in public places, intelligence wing and the anti-terrorist cell would be modernised as part of the measures to fight terrorism, Yeddyurappa said.

“The Centre has assured all help to the State in fighting terrorism. I will take up the issue with Union Home Minister very soon and try to get more funds for police modernisation. Efforts would also be made to improve co-ordination between central and State intelligence wings.

Night patrolling would be intensified. Vigil along the 300-km coastline in the State would be improved,” he added.

Denying the Opposition charge that the State Government had neglected the intelligence alert from central agencies on terrorist strikes in Bangalore, Yedyurappa said the alert was general in nature and there were no specific inputs on the strikes.

Not satisfied with the reply, Congress members accused the Government of failing in its duty to protect innocent lives and staged a walkout.

BIA to have ‘Pinplus’ service

BIA to have ‘Pinplus’ service
Wednesday July 30 2008 04:01 IST

Bosky Khanna | ENS

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BANGALORE: India Post aims to introduce a dedicated 'Pinplus' service for Bengaluru International Airport. The first Pinplus service in Bangalore for a separate pin code will start within two months.

Pinplus service is a dedicated area pin code and a beat code, also called postman code, explaining the exact location.

The pin code for BIA is 560 030, along with this a beat code will be suffixed for each addressee. For example the Pinplus code for BIAL office in BIA will be 560030-01 and so on for each airline office and stake holder.

Chief Postmaster General, Karnataka Circle, M P Rajan, told this website's newspaper that the department was in touch with the recipients for this service. Initially it would be for bulk delivery and later for the mail service as well.

By introducing Pinplus service, the postal department would eliminate three levels of sorting and increase proficiency and swiftness. The international airport on any given day receives over 800 articles which are addressed to over 60 addresses.

Thus the introduction of a dedicated Pinplus service for BIA will help in easy delivery. To enhance these operations further, a senior postal official said that India Post also proposes to set up a dedicated Delivery Service Office at BIA office.

All BIA addressees including stake holders, aviation companies, security offices, banks, cargo offices and other operators can access this office round the clock.

"We have asked the BIA to give us a list of all addressees for introducing the Pinplus service for allotting dedicated beat codes," added the official.

The postal department had earlier planned to introduce a dedicated pin code for Vidhana Soudha and extend the service by adding the Pinplus service for each office housed in Vidhana Soudha and similarly for Vikasa Soudha.

But the idea was dropped and the department instead introduced 58 dedicated pin codes for each office including that of Chief Minister, Chief Secretary, Information Technology Commissioner and others six months ago.

False alarms keep cops busy

False alarms keep cops busy
DH News Service, Bangalore:
False bomb alarms continued to keep the police on their toes in Bangalore on Tuesday as well.

Triggering panic among the public, the calls had the men in khaki rush to the spots with the bomb detection and disposal squad in tandem. A collective sigh of relief escaped crowds across Bangalore only after the squads dubbed the calls as hoaxes after thorough inspections.

In Adugodi, Mico factory officials received a call around 9:30 am, claiming that a bomb planted inside the factory premises would explode within half an hour.

After an inspection, this too turned to be a false alarm.

Another miscreant called up the principal of VV Puram College of Science and directed him to send students and staff members outside the college immediately as a bomb, kept inside the campus, would explode soon. The bomb squad could find nothing.

The same episode was re-enacted at Vasavi Vidyaniketan school in Vijaynagar and Om School in Basavanagudi. A bomb hoax call was also received at Vision Theatre near Wilson Garden.

A few passengers got panicky after they noticed a box abandoned at Yeshwanthpur railway station. The police rushed to the spot but found that it was empty.

Interestingly, a polythene bag spotted at the Wilson Garden graveyard raised the suspicions of onlookers. But later, the police found that contained only talsams.

City short on sniffer dogs

City short on sniffer dogs
There is shortage of sniffer dogs in Bangalore and sources say that this has increased the work pressure on the dogs.

The City requires a minimum of 25 dogs and presently there are only 16 sniffer dogs. Normally, two dogs are pressed into service to trace out the suspicious objects at one spot. This number is increased in accorddancce to the size of the place.

Penalty waiver likely in newly added BBMP areas

Penalty waiver likely in newly added BBMP areas
S Lalitha
That the Greater Bangalore Water Supply Project to provide 100 MLD of water to the newly added BBMP areas has not taken off is stale news now.

With a new government in place, it has given rise to hope among the public that the penalty amount to be paid by those who have not paid for new water connections before the stipulated deadline, would be waived off.

The residents of Bommanhalli, Byatarayanapura, Dasarahalli, Krishnarajapuram, Mahadevapura, Rajarajeshwaringar, Yelahanka and Kengeri have been waiting for a long time for a decision to be arrived at. And it appears as if the BWSSB minister Katta Subramanya Naidu might make their wait worth it. In an interview to `Deccan Herald’, Naidu said that his ministry was closely examining the issue and would arrive at a decision shortly. “Don’t worry, a decision in favour of the public will definitely be taken,” he told the media at a briefing at T. K Halli later.

The nearly Rs 450-crore project, which was inaugurated in 2004, banked on collecting Rs.119.45 crores through Beneficiary Capital Contributions (BCC). The BCC scheme aimed at making citizens and business houses as stakeholders in the project so that the cost of investments could be met upfront. It was aimed at reducing the interest burden on the project. However, the response was not encouraging.

The BCC amounts to be paid ranged from Rs 5,000 to Rs 15,000 depending on the dimensions of the site. The government later announced a reduction in the amount. However, what really irked the public was the penalty amount imposed on those who had not paid the BCC before 1.8.2005. The penalty was levied till the month of December 2007. The amount was Rs 100 for a 30X40 site, Rs 200 for a 40x60 site and so on. So, the owner of a 30x40 site had to pay a penalty amount of Rs 2,900 in addition to the BCC amount. This was perceived as “a hefty penalty” by the vast majority and the applications for new water connections have reached a standstill. Since then, it has been a tussle between the BWSSB and citizens on this issue.

The BWSSB maintained that it was a government decision and it was helpless to revoke the decision. The long phase without a government ensured that no decision was taken and the project continued to lie in limbo.
It is with much hope that the residents are waiting for a decision to be taken on the penalty issue.

Only around 50,000 households out of the 5 lakh households in these areas have applied for the connections, which amounts to a mere one-tenth.

The long journey of City's water

The long journey of City's water
S Lalitha
Every glass of water you drink reaches your doorstep after a long and fascinating journey. The story of that journey ought to be told as long as Bangalore thirsts for the precious commodity.

In a unique phenomenon which takes place only in a few spots in the world, water is brought to the City from a distance of over 100 Kms from its perennial source, the Cauvery and the Arkavathi. The intake point from Cauvery is the Shiva Anicut. It is gravity which makes water flow from Anicut to the Netkal Balancing Reservoir (NBR), located 8.5 kms away. The NBR transports water to water treatment plants at Thorekadanahalli or T K Halli through mammoth 1750/1950 mm dia mild steel pipes running to a length of 9.6 kms. Located in Malavalli taluk of Mandya district, T K Halli is the centre of the entire City’s water supply. Situated on the banks of river Shimsha, it is 87 kms from the City at an elevation of 600 metres above mean sea level. The Muttathi forest range envelops the area, lending much serenity to the place.

Spread across 425 acres here are the pumping stations, pure water tanks, filtration units, staff quarters and offices. Water is treated at the water treatment plants here. These plants are constructed under the Cauvery I, II, III and IV stages. The Stage I commissioned during 1973 is equipped with five pumpsets and supplies 135 Million Litres Per Day (MLD). The Stage II, commissioned during 1982, has an equal number of pumpsets and supplies another 135 MLD. The third and fourth stages, commissioned during 1993 and 2002 respectively, have each been equipped with eight pumpsets and each one supplies double the capacity, 270 MLD each.

The first three stages are equipped with water treatment units which uses the conventional treatment process and uses rapid sand gravity filters. The first phase of the IV stage has an advanced water treatment process which makes use of the latest French technology. It consists of pulsators, clarifiers and Aquazur V filters. Recognised as one of the best treatment plants in the country, the water treated here meets international standards.

The treated water is then pumped against a head of 160 mts at each stage of pumping. The pumping is done at the points at Harohalli (34 kms from the City) and Tataguni (26 kms). This is done through 1200/1650 dia mild steel transmission pipes to Bangalore and then distributed to various reservoirs.

These processes ensure the City receives 810 MLD per day. In addition, the Thippagondanahalli reservoir, located 30 kms from the City, provides another 60 MLD daily. To augment the water supply, a boosting station has been set up to supply another 100 MLD to the newly added BBMP areas, which is yet to be commissioned.
However, present shortage and the growth of the City will require much more water. To supply an additional 500 MLD, the second phase of the IV stage will begin work this December with assistance from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. This project, to be built at a cost of Rs 3383.70 crores, is likely to be completed by 2011. The City is then slated to receive drinking water on a daily basis, in place of the alternate day or three days a week supply, which is the norm in many areas now.

Budgetary boost for BIA CONNECTIVITY

Budgetary boost for BIA CONNECTIVITY
R Krishnakumar | TNN

Bangalore: The signal-free drive on the Outer Ring Road (ORR) still remains a promise. The BDA, though, has lined up plans to clear one major stretch of the road of bottlenecks. The state’s budgetary allotment of Rs 350 crore for seamless travel on the ORR is expected to add pace to development plans for the stretch between the Central Silk Board (CSB) Junction in Madiwala and the Hebbal flyover.
The development on the 31-km stretch is also tipped to enhance connectivity from the southern parts of Bangalore — including Madiwala, BTM Layout and Hosur Road — to the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) at Devanahalli.
The stretch has totally 17 junctions, of which improvement work at five — near CSB, Marathahalli, Doddanakunte, Ramamurthynagar and Hebbal — by constructing grade separators has been completed. Tenders have been invited to construct grade separators/underpasses at four other junctions at Nagawara, Banaswadi, Iblur and Agara.
The new budgetary allocation will be put to use for the construction of eight new grade separators on the CSB-Hebbal stretch. The junctions identified for this are at HSR Layout, Bellandur, Devarabesanahalli, Kadubesanahalli, Mahadevapura, Kalyan Nagar, Hennur and Veerannapalya. The estimated cost is between Rs 300 crore and Rs 350 crore.
Tenders soon
BDA commissioner H Siddaiah told TOI that the original plan was to implement the project in phases and work on the Iblur and Agara junctions was initiated in the first phase. “Later, it was decided to take up work on the other eight junctions as well. The idea is to streamline traffic and ensure a continuous flow from CSB Junction to Hebbal,’’ the commissioner said. All eight junctions have been surveyed and the traffic situation analyzed. The BDA expects to float tenders in the next fortnight to a month.
With these underpasses in place, the traffic from areas on the ORR’s flanks is expected to be streamlined and converge at junctions that are becoming choking points now. The junctions at Hennur and Kalyan Nagar have been particularly hit by the surge in traffic. In the next stage, the BDA will take up the peripheral ring road on a budget of Rs 3,000 crore under a build, own and transfer (BOT) basis.
The ORR, developed by BDA to divert truck traffic from the city, has failed in its objective as speeding trucks and private vehicles jostle for space through the entire stretch. The ORR has totally 30 junctions, of which 17 have been identified for development by the BDA and the BBMP.
Plan to make ORR signal-free gathers pace Survey of eight identified junctions complete BDA to float tenders on eight grade separators Project planned at a budget of about Rs 300 crore Expected to improve Hosur Road-BIA connectivity

CMH Road traders fret over biz loss

CMH Road traders fret over biz loss
Come August 1, Traffic Restrictions Will Be Imposed Due To Namma Metro Work

Bangalore: As the traffic police department gets set to impose restrictions on CMH Road — in connection with commencement of work on the Namma Metro — traders on the road are dreading the possibilities of lean business.
Traffic movement will be completely blocked on a stretch from BM Sri junction up to CMH Road-Double Road junction, from August 1. D Srinivas, DCP, traffic (east), said a notification with regard to the diversion will be issued in a couple of days. Traffic will be diverted from the BM Sri junction on 100-Feet Road and will move in front of Chinmaya Mission hospital and then take a left turn to reach Old Madras Road.
The traders are worried as the restricted traffic movement is likely to affect their business. Many have already left the road after their buildings were identified as coming under the proposed Metro alignment. Somanath, a trader whose shop will go down to put the Metro line in place, said he has already taken up a shop on Ring Road and was ready to move out. Imtiaz Ahmed, president, CMH Road Shops and Establishments’ Association, said business will collapse with traffic restrictions. Pointing out that the project may take years to complete, he said: “We know it’s a good infrastructure project and are not against it. But the alignment on the CMH Road will kill our business. It took several years before the business started to flourish and if we are forced to go without business now for years, it will ruin several people’s lives.’’
Ganapathy, a manager in a motorbike showroom — half of which will go down for Metro — said business has to be relocated. He, though, added that finding a location in another major commercial area would be a tough ask. “There are constraints but it has become inevitable for us,’’ he added.
Sreedharan may be Metro consultant Bangalore: In all probability, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) managing director E Sreedharan may be appointed consultant to the Bangalore Metro Rail project.
The offer was reportedly made by chief minister B S Yeddyurappa when the former met him here on Monday. “It was a brief meeting, but the issue of utilizing his services was discussed. An offer was made and he has agreed,’’ sources said. Sreedharan, during a visit to Bangalore on June 20, said DMRC was ready to offer its expertise to Bangalore Metro Rail and work as its consultant. He had expressed surprise that DMRC was not the consultant though the corporation had conceived the project for Bangalore and was a consultant for Metro projects across the country. TNN

No more power cuts in city

No more power cuts in city

Bangalore: Power-starved Bangaloreans can heave a sigh of relief. Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa has said that there would be no more loadshedding in the city.
Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday, he said rural power consumption had reduced due to good rain in the last few days, making more power available to Bangalore. This was because farmers had reduced drawing water from irrigation pumpsets as rains had fed the crops. This had reduced the consumption in rural areas and power stations in the cities had more power at their disposal. Ultimately, this has helped him lift load-shedding in Bangalore. “Initially, this month, the state’s daily consumption was 120 million units. But, on Monday, it was reduced to 83.89 million units. That is why we have decided not to shed load in the city.’’
Referring to the rural areas, he said load-shedding would depend on availability. “However, the intensity of loadshedding won’t be as much as it was before. The reservoirs are getting water and if the rain continues for some more days, we need not resort to loadshedding in rural areas too.’’ He said the rain will also help the government implement the proposal of providing free power to the irrigation pumpsets.
Due to shortage of power, daily, the government had resorted to 20% loadshedding (it meant power cuts of about 4 to 6 hours in Bangalore and 8 to 10 hours in rural areas). The government had announced that it would have to resort to 25% load-shedding in August. Sources said Karnataka would be getting 100 MW of power from Chattisgarh and Jindal had offered 50 MW.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Arriving soon: digital info at bus shelters

Arriving soon: digital info at bus shelters
R Krishnakumar | TNN

Bangalore: When’s your next bus? The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) might soon flash the answer, right in your neighbourhood bus shelter. The BMTC is set to implement the long-in-the-wait passenger information system (PIS) in select bus shelters in the city. Planned as a pilot project, PIS will be put to use in 80 bus shelters en route the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA), covering the nine BMTC routes to the airport. In the subsequent phases, the BMTC plans to extend the system across all its city services.
The BMTC has issued tenders on PIS and the project implementation has been assigned to KELTRON India Limited. With the implementation of PIS, that displays real-time information on bus arrival/departure schedules at the shelters, the BMTC looks at enhancing the passenger experience and ensuring greater citizen endorsement of public transport. The PIS is supported by the global positioning system (GPS).
“We will soon begin work on the system. Talks are on with the BBMP on fixing the display units at the bus shelters and on the supply of power required for the units,’’ Dastagir Sharief, chief traffic manager, BMTC, told The Times Of India. The BMTC doesn’t spend on the project and evens it out by offering advertising rights for the technology partners on the LCD panels. The pilot project will help the BMTC iron out issues before it sets out to implement PIS in its city services.
According to Channabasappa, controller of stores and purchases, BMTC, the LCD panels displaying the information will be purchased by the end of July. The fitting of the GPS units is expected to begin in August. The LCD panels are tipped to be installed at the bus shelters by December this year. The BMTC is planning to extend the system’s reach into the buses as well by flashing information on the flight schedules at BIA. The corporation is in talks with BIAL over provision of access to the schedules.
The PIS plan had started doing the rounds a couple of years ago with the system planned on five Volvo routes. The plan, though, never took off.
With the GPS in place, PIS traces the movement and location of buses plying on different routes. A control room collects signals of the movement, processes the information and makes predictions on the possible arrival/departure of Volvo and other services to the airport. These predictions are flashed on the panel at the shelter that’s linked to the control room.

Pay & park to return sans attendants

Pay & park to return sans attendants
By Basavaraj Itnaal, DH News Service, Bangalore:
Pay and park is all set to return. The system which was withdrawn three years ago following complaints of harassment of motorists by parking attendants, is now being introduced in an improved form.

The parking lots on the select roadsides would be metered, eliminating the possibility of attendants demanding any money.

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has already passed a resolution to this effect and even fixed the tariff.

The Palike proposal has been accepted by the State government and the scheme would be implemented once the roads are identified for metered parking, sources told Deccan Herald.

Paid parking on the roadside was in vogue in the City since 2000.

In 2005, the City witnessed many ugly incidents and in one case a motorist was killed in a scuffle with a parking attendant at Gandhinagar. In its earlier system, the Palike licensed operators to run paid parking lots for a fee.
The operators then appointed attendants who collected fees from motorists. Due to lack of monitoring, attendants demanded fees as they fancied.

After citizens complained that all the roads in the City had become paid parking lots causing inconvenience, the then mayor R Narayanaswamy decided to withdraw the scheme.

The Palike had written to the government that it would make good the loss in revenue by imposing infrastructure cess and solid waste management cess.

However, the government cancelled the Palike resolution on February 5, 2005, contending that free parking would lead to haphazard parking and vehicles could be stolen.

Free parking
Even as the government had ordered restoration of the paid parking system in early 2005, the popularity of free parking ensured that no politician pushed for its implementation.

In the meantime, associations of traders on Brigade Road and Commercial Street entered into an agreement with the Palike to allow them to run metered parking lots in a user friendly way. This initiative was taken up on a build, operate and transfer basis. The associations were to instal the metering equipment, employ personnel and pay 50 per cent of the daily collections to the Palike. The agreement was for five years after which the equipment would be transferred to BBMP.

The Palike sources said soon a list of roads identified for such metered parking lots would be prepared and these lots would be given only to traders’ associations and not individuals.

The BBMP has identified 27 roads for metered paid parking lots and the list is likely to grow. Palike would
finalise the list soon. However, CMH Road and MG Road will not have metered parking due to the ongoing Metro Rail works.

Hoax calls flood schools

Hoax calls flood schools
DH News Service, Bangalore:
The spate of hoax calls warning of bombs planted in City schools continued unabated for the second consecutive day on Monday.

The five schools that were in the thick of the drama were Carmel Convent and Vijaya High School in Jayanagar; Lily Little Rose School in Mico Layout and BET School and St Anthony School in BTM Layout.

Police said miscreants called up the schools and the police control room between 10:30 am and 11 am and said bombs had been planted in the institutions.

Soon chaos reigned at the schools which promptly declared a holiday. Panic stricken teachers, parents and students scrambled for safety. Bomb disposal and sniffer dog squads from the Tilak Nagar, Jayanagar and Mico Layout police stations rushed to the schools and conducted a thorough search before declaring the calls hoax.

Mischief from booth
All the calls were made from a PCO telephone booth. Investigations are on to trace the callers.

Similar hoax bomb calls were made to Kannada cine star Vishnuvardhan and Garuda Mall on Sunday.

Police attributed the calls to mischief mongers who wanted to trigger panic among residents.

Police pick up crucial leads

Police pick up crucial leads
DH News Service, Bangalore:
The City police made headway in the probe into the serial bomb blasts that rocked the City on Friday last and have secured more than 40 persons for questioning.

Investigating officials have garnered vital information during the interrogations.

Sources in the State intelligence said that most of the persons taken into custody are residents from Gurappanapalya and neighbourhood. The police believe that the accused could not have carried out the blasts without local help.

However, the sources said that blasts rocking Ahmedabad a day after Bangalore might just be a coincidence. There are certain differences between the blasts in the two cities, the sources added.

The investigation process would arrive at a definite conclusion in a couple of days based on the material found at the blast sites and details disclosed by those picked up for questioning. Senior officials refused to divulge further details stating that disclosure of any vital information might hamper the investigation process. But they stressed that the police have managed to collect some vital clues and the accused would be nabbed very soon.

The police, in the meantime, have intensified search operations. Nakabandis have been put up at all sensitive and highly sensitive places and at all entry points to and checkposts in the State. Plainclothesmen are on look-out for persons with dubious credentials.

Sketch soon
DG office sources said that the police are likely to release sketches of the youth who allegedly planted a bomb near The Forum mall here, besides that of the other accused persons very soon. The Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) completed testing the material recovered from the blast sites. Laboratory officials are learnt to have submitted a preliminary report to the government. Sources said the investigating teams have managed to collect some clues suggesting that the bombs were manufactured at Channapatna.

Ten teams including those of the Bangalore City police, crime branch and Bangalore Rural police, are investigating the serial blasts. A special team from Hyderabad arrived in the City to inspect the blast sites, the police said.
Unconfirmed reports said that two Channapatna policemen have been suspended for dereliction for duty in connection with July 24 blast in the town.

A team of National Security Guard (NSG) visited Channapatna in Ramanagar district on Monday and inspected the site where a crude bomb exploded on July 24.

The visit assumes significance in the backdrop of the likelihood of those involved in the Bangalore blasts having conducted a dry run in Channapatna. Meanwhile, Home Minister VS Acharya said in the Legislative Assembly on Monday that there were no specific Central intelligence advisory or alerts on the Bangalore blasts. “What we received were routine advisories after the blasts in Jaipur in May,” Acharya said much to the chagrin of the Congress members who alleged that the State government had ignored the Centre’s warning note.

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, however, said divulging the details of investigation at this stage would hamper the process.

Rain eases power crisis

Rain eases power crisis
DH News Service, Bangalore:
The heavy rain lashing several parts of the State over the last two-three days has had officials in the energy department heaving a sigh of relief.

Besides a sharp fall in the daily power demand by about 30 million units, there has been a marked increase in inflow of water into the hydel reservoirs.

The heavy rain has hit normal life in coastal and Malnad regions. Several areas in Uttara Kannada, Shimoga, Udupi, Dakshina Kannada, Chikmagalur, Hassan and Kodagu districts have been inundated.

Pilgrim centres Bhagamandala (Kodagu) and Kukke Subramanya (Dakshina Kannada) are among the worst hit. KSRTC services to Kukke Subramanya have been been disrupted. Power supply across Kodagu district has also been badly affected.

One killed
A tree fell over a bus belonging to the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation at Vatekolli near Perumbadi gate in Kodagu district early on Monday morning, killing the driver of the bus, Praveen (27), on the spot.

If heavy rain continues to lash the State for another 15 to 20 days, then power situation will remain normal for the next 10 months in the State. Karnataka Power Corporation Limited Managing Director S M Jaamdar said the demand for power has come down to 75 MUs a day from the peak 110-115 MUs. In Bangalore, there was no load-shedding through the day.

The State has also cut down its power purchase by 20 MUs a day saving money for the exchequer. A unit of power if purchased from outside Karnataka costs not less than Rs 8 a unit, whereas the production by KPCL costs around Rs 2.50 a unit.

Jaamdar said, “I cannot say the power position is satisfactory. But we have sufficient water to meet the immediate requirement. If it rains for the next eight days the way it has been for 2-3 days now, then we can expect good progress in power generation. The water level in the Linganamakki reservoir has gone up by 5 feet compared to last week. The inflow into the reservoir last week was about 9,000 cusec while this morning it was 58,000 cusec. If the rains continue in the Sharavathi catchment area, then we will be comfortable. It is also raining in the Supa and Mani reservoir areas. In September too we expect good rains.”

Consequent to the rains, the demand for power has come down by 30 to 35 MUs a day.

The demand from IP sets alone has reduced by 30 per cent. With the Bellary thermal plant producing up to 150 MW, the dependence on the Raichur thermal plant has come down. In fact, a unit in Raichur has been shut down for annual maintenance, he added.

K Jairaj, Principal Secretary, Energy Department said with the stability in power availability, there has been no load-shedding from Sunday.

However, he said, “We have not withdrawn load-shedding. The Cabinet sub-committee on power will meet on Tuesday to review the situation.”

Landscapes to get facelift

Landscapes to get facelift

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The landscape around Vidhana Soudha and Vikasa Soudha, of Cubbon Park and of 21 other gardens and hill stations in the state is all set to change. The government is preparing to give them a facelift .

“We are in the process of preparing a master plan to upgrade and develop these gardens and hill stations, keeping the next twenty years in mind. The plan will be ready by July 30,” Dr Ramakrishnappa, director, horticulture, said here on Monday.

He was speaking to Deccan Chronicle after a public hearing, organised by the department of horticulture to address the immediate problems of Cubbon park.

“We have already started work at Lalbagh and we will also start on the Vidhana Soudha and Vikasa Soudha gardens in a short while, as their landscape is almost 21 years old,” he added.

“At this meeting we have identified a few members for an expert consultants committee, among Cubbon park users. We will take their suggestions when upgrading the park,” he revealed.

“We want to thin the garden and do some surgery in some parts as it is overcrowded with certain species and offers too much shade at certain spots, which is affecting its beauty. We will take up renovation of the park between Central Library and Hudson circle. And we will also take up desilting of six wells in the park and use the water for various purposes,” he explained.

Over 30 park users who were present at the public hearing, urged the director to declare it a heritage spot.

Meanwhile security will be tightened at Cubbon park, to curb any untoward incidents, as instances of cutting of trees, pickpocketing and illegal parking of vehicles are on rise in its grounds.

“We have plans to outsource the security,” Dr Ramakrishnappa added.

BangaloreOne stops railway e-ticketing

BangaloreOne stops railway e-ticketing

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One of the most popular services at the BangaloreOne centres – railway e-ticketing has been temporarily withdrawn.

The reason appears to be technical: Lack of access to the railway server managed by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

Twenty full-fledged Ban galoreOne centres and 20 kiosks are operational in various residential areas.

On an average 100 customers visit them everyday for railway ticket reservations.

A senior official from the Directorate of Electronic Delivery of Citizen Services (EDCS) assured that the cancellation of the popular service was “temporary” and the problem would be solved soon so that it could be re-introduced.

“We have brought the problem to the attention of the railway authorities and we have also included a few suggestions,” the officer added.

Officers of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation said that server problems had been rectified and the e-ticket service through B1 centres would resume shortly.

The e-ticketing went through initial hiccups when it was introduced a year ago.

The customers were not allowed to cancel their tickets through B1 centres and there were server problems as well.

Passengers have more bad news. The railways have restricted the number of identity cards which can be produced on board the train after purchase of an e-ticket.

“The authorities have restricted the documents to identity cards issued by the central government, state government, driving licence and passport. We have no clue why the railways have narrowed down the number of documents which can be presented on board the train.

Even the Election Commission accepts any one of the 16 documents,” said a Directorate of Electronic Delivery of Citizen Services official.

Mall boom dooms traffic

Mall boom dooms traffic

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Bengaluru can boast of providing its people a fun shopping experience and entertainment in style in its malls and multiplexes.

The city hub and a few other areas in its vicinity are booming with shops and theatres located in high rise buildings. Invariably people make a beeline for them in search of the mall experience. But these popular high rises and commercial malls in the heart of the city and central business district (CBD) are proving a challenge for the traffic police as the volume of vehicles on the roads leading to them is very high. The question is : Should so many malls and multi plexes be allowed to come up in the heart of the city?

The authorities don’t seem to see anything amiss with their concentration in certain central areas like the MG Road and busy localities surrounding it as the BBMP, PWD, and the traffic police, including the urban administration have not only issued the existing mulitplexes and malls their licences but are also in the process of permitting more such complexes in the core areas of the city.

Additional commissioner of police (traffic and security) Praveen Sood doesn’t see anything wrong in malls being permitted in central areas of the city. Malls and entertainment hubs cannot be anywhere but in the heart of the city, he feels.

“All developed countries have commercial malls and entertainment hubs in the central business district.

There is no point in having entertainment spots and commercial hubs in the outskirts,” he says, however, adding that adequate parking, entry and exit points should be provided by all the malls located here to ease traffic conditions.

“We cannot wish away malls and multiplexes. But we need to have adequate parking and traffic management. Once the traffic management is in place, handling traffic will not be an issue at all. The state government has suggested a parking policy to ensure a smooth flow of vehicles,” Mr Sood said.

BBMP joint director (town planning) S. Togagi says the number of floors in a complex depends on the FAR permitted in a particular area and is based on the zoning regulation and width of the road. He explains that high rise buildings can be permitted on a road only if it is over 60 ft wide.

Deputy commissioner (urban) G.N. Nayak says that although urban administration is the sanctioning authority for multiplex licenses, the BBMP and the traffic police too play a vital role in giving clearance for a multi-storeyed building.

He said a meeting would be held with the traffic police and BBMP to keep a tab on the mushrooming of such complexes to ensure that they did not aggravate traffic conditions in the city. “After consulting the BBMP and the traffic police the urban administration will chalk out certain measures to prevent the mushrooming of such multiplexes and commercial complexes,” he assured, adding that even now the traffic ‘ police had the ultimate say when granting permission.

“We insist upon No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from BBMP, BDA, traffic police, PWD and fire departments for the multiplexes,”he said.

Controlling traffic flow around The Forum mall on Hosur Road and Garuda Mall on Magarth Road has become a challenge for traffic cops, especially during the peak hours.

The Forum mall was built on Hosur Road about five years ago and the city has grown to make it a part and parcel of it. Traffic experts feel that policemen need to be stationed at the junction of the Forum mall to direct traffic and prevent jams as wells as accidents due to reckless driving.

The story is similar around Garuda mall where too the traffic is heavy on the roads leading to it and around it.

The situation cries for better traffic management, say the experts

Bangaloreans in extra-alert mode

Bangaloreans in extra-alert mode

Staff Reporter

Police receive three calls on bomb-like objects; search yields nothing

The first call came around 6.30 a.m.

Cine actor Vishnuvardhan’s house searched

BANGALORE: The serial blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad have forced people to go into an extra-alert mode with several citizens telephoning police about suspicious objects. On Sunday, the city police received three such telephone calls.

However, police search and examination revealed that these objects were not made of explosive material.

The first call came around 6.30 a.m. The caller informed the police control room that a bomb-like object had been placed on the premises of K.C. General Hospital in Malleswaram. The caller said he had found a cover near a corner near the compound of the hospital.

The control room alerted the Malleswaram police and also the bomb detection squad. The police cordoned off the area and carried out a search. “We did not disturb the patients as the caller had specifically said that the bomb-like object was placed near a compound wall,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police (Malleswaram) M. Krishnappa.

Apart from making a thorough search outside the hospital building, the police squad checked the bathroom and toilets in the hospital. A two-hour search, however, did not yield anything. The bomb detection squad also conducted a search at Garuda Mall. According to Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) G. Ramesh, police constables had, during patrol, found an object in the shopping complex. The squad, which inspected the object, found it to be a packet of crackers.

There was also a call about a bomb being placed near the house of actor Vishuvardhan in J.P. Nagar. The bomb detection squad searched Mr. Vishnuvardhan’s residence and adjoining areas. They also searched Sudarshan Park, which is near the actor’s residence. The police did not find any explosive material there.

24-hour news channels add to panic

24-hour news channels add to panic

Bangalore Bureau

Eveningers go a step further by inflating the number of dead

Bangalore: Bangaloreans who were out on the streets on Friday evening were definitely less panicky than those who were watching 24-hour news television channels given the over-the-top pitch of reporting.

The channels, which ran highly alarmist headlines like “Target Bangalore” and “Bangalore’s Black Friday,” kept repeating visuals.

They did not bother to underline the fact that at least six of the blasts were of such low intensity that the sites bore no signs of damage. Indeed, reporters had to look for the site and even traffic policemen were clueless about the exact site of explosions.

In sharp contrast, the explosion site close to Mallya Hospital, for example, had turned into a curiosity of sorts with all passers by stopping to see what the hullabaloo was about, adding to the traffic chaos. Some even seemed a tad disappointed since there was nothing “dramatic” and even the shrub around the spot of explosion seemed intact.
Jumping the gun

More alarmingly, one reporter of a Kannada channel went to the extent of speculating: “The police have to now investigate whether it was SIMI or Lashkar-e-Toiba which did this.” He added that “all the terrorists activities happening in Karnataka are linked.”

These on-the-spot analysis was attributed to neither the police nor any political leader. This was even as a senior police official interviewed on the same channel went only to the extent of saying that it “looked like it was organised by a single group.”

The eveningers went a step further by inflating even the number of dead. While one death was confirmed till late evening, a Kannada eveninger had a headline that screamed: “Three dead in city.”

Cellphone companies in a tizzy

Cellphone companies in a tizzy

Anil Kumar Sastry and Sharath S. Srivatsa

They are unable to provide back-up power for all towers

— Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

bad SIGNAL: A cellphone tower on a building in Bangalore.

BANGALORE: Puzzling over the poor connectivity when you speak into your cellphone recently?

The current crisis on the power and diesel front has had unexpected consequences in affecting the functioning of base transmission stations, more familiar as mobile towers to the people.

Long power cuts and diesel shortage have stumped private mobile service providers, affecting the quality of service.

In fact, mobile phone users in Bangalore, parts of Mysore, Davangere, Chitradurga and Belgaum are experiencing frustratingly poor connectivity because of the inability of the companies to keep their towers working.

Cellphone users have been facing non-availability of network, congestion in the network, call drops and low quality audio ever since long hours of power cuts started.
Companies helpless

“Companies are helpless, as power cuts range from six to 16 hours a day and we have constantly been recording the power shutdown,” said an Airtel spokesperson. The base transmission stations can run on battery for nearly two hours, he said.

Consequently, service providers have been forced to use diesel generator (DG) sets to keep the network live, and non-availability of diesel in required quantity has affected the operations.

The companies cannot install DG sets on wayside micro towers and those erected on private property.

Thus, the traffic of these towers has to be diverted to others that are working either through regular power supply or through DG sets, resulting in decreased quality of service. The spokesperson hoped the situation could return to normalcy following oil companies’ assurance over diesel supply, as telecom is an essential service. However, he added, that there was no need for panic.

An engineer familiar with mobile site power management said many sites that were not revenue earners and had fewer customers did not have DG sets for backup, and customers were experiencing problems.

“Whenever a live site faces power problems, we try to enhance the signal range of a neighbouring site to keep the network running,” he added.

Mobile operators use generator sets varying between 7.5 kV and 25 kV, and their usage depends on the load of the site.

“If many operators share the same site, then a 25 kV generator is used to meet the load requirement. On an average, a 7.5 kV set consumes around two litres of diesel an hour while a 25 kV set requires around four litres an hour,” the engineer said.
BSNL cautious

Meanwhile, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd., (BSNL) SAID it haD not been facing any problem. Chief General Manager, Karnataka Circle, T.S. Kuppuswamy, without elaborating on the measures, told The Hindu that BSNL had taken several steps to face the situation.

“We have the largest network. We are not only providing mobile services, but also we have the largest basic telephone network and have faced grimmer situations earlier,” Mr. Kuppuswamy added.

Blasts mar Bangalore’s image as a safe city

Blasts mar Bangalore’s image as a safe city

K.V. Subramanya

Prior to the terrorist strike on the IISc., there had hardly been an incident of such nature in the city

Security agencies have foiled attempts to create unrest in the city

Several persons associated with the SIMI were arrested

Soft target: A file picture of the then Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh visiting the spot where a scientist was killed on the IISc campus in Bangalore.

BANGALORE: The series of blasts that rocked the city on Friday has not only marred Bangalore’s reputation of being a safe city but also highlighted again that the city is not insulated from such acts.

Prior to the terrorist strike on the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) in December 2005, there had hardly been an incident of terrorists carrying out attacks in Bangalore, although several of them were caught or shot dead by the police in encounters here. The security agencies had also foiled attempts of terrorist/militant outfits to create unrest in the city.

Besides the IISc. attack, the only act of sabotage carried out in the city in the recent years was the blast at St. Peter’s and Paul Church in Jagajivanramnagar in June 2000. The members of the now banned Deendar Anjuman, which had links the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had allegedly carried out the explosion at the church.

After the blast at the church, there was an explosion in the van, in which the Deendar Anjuman members were travelling near the Minerva Mills in the Magadi Road police station limits. The van blast, in which two persons were killed, gave vital clues to the police, who were successful in arresting several members of the Deendar Anjuman.

The most successful and the major operation by the police against terrorists in the city took place on September 29, 2002 when a suspected ISI agent, Imam Ali, and four of his accomplices were killed in a pre-dawn encounter.

Ali, who was associated with the ISI-backed Hizbul Mujahideen and Palani Baba’s Al-Jihad and Al-Umma, was the prime accused in the 1993 blast at RSS headquarters in Chennai, which claimed 14 lives.

Claiming themselves to be timber merchants, Ali and his four associates hailing from Tamil Nadu were taking shelter in a house on 5th Main, 11th Cross, M.S. Ramaiah Nagar in Sanjaynagar police station limits.

After the encounter, the police sources had said that Ali and his aides had planned to carryout attacks in the city and one of their target was the ISKCON temple on Chord Road.

In the recent months, the police have arrested from Bangalore several persons who were associated with SIMI as well as Lashkar-e-Taiba and were reportedly planning to carry out explosions. In another major operation in November 2002, the Fraser Town police foiled the attempts of Tamil militants, who had links with the LTTE, to kill some prominent Kannada activists and create unrest in the city.

On November 11, 2002, the police arrested Vijay Murthy alias Viji and Shiva Kumar alias Shiva, from near the Banaswadi railway station and seized huge quantities of aluminium pipe bombs and hand grenades.

In the past, the police had arrested from the city several militants belonging to various outfits such as Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and People’s War Group (PWG) among others.

The most infamous of the militants who had taken shelter in the city (in 1991) apparently were the assassins of the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

While some of these LTTE cadres committed suicide by consuming cyanide at a house in Konanakunte, the police arrested a few others.

Namma Metro: CMH road traffic to be diverted

Namma Metro: CMH road traffic to be diverted
By S Praveen Dhaneshkar, D H News Service, Bangalore:
As the 'Namma Metro' chugs along, gathering steam to complete the project on Reach One (Byappanahalli-Cricket Stadium) by December 2010, the BMRCL has announced that it has prepared a traffic diversion to begin work on CMH Road. It could be implemented from Monday onwards.

Speaking to Deccan Herald here on Saturday, N Sivashailam, Managing Director of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited said, “To facilitate construction on CMH road, the work area needs to be barricaded. The notification to begin diversion could be issued from 28 July. Vehicular diversion is planned in consultation and approval of the traffic police and BMTC. Public are requested to co-operate and follow the diversion routes as approved by the competent authority. We request the public to use alternative routes to reach Indiranagar and the surrounding areas. Signage boards to indicate the alternative routes are being prepared”

Speed up work
With the project now at a crucial stage, BMRCL has begun expediting the work on the showpiece of the City, M G Road, and is on the way to completing the concrete casting of piers and girder segments soon.

“We are also carrying out demolition of private properties, whose possession has been acquired on the Old Madras Road-CMH Road stretch,” said the ‘Namma Metro’ chief. The BMRCL says completion of road widening work on Swami Vivekananda Road (Old Madras Road) would take up to three months. “For now, barricading will begin in stages. We plan to move in from the Byappanahalli-Old Madras Road-100ft Road-CMH Road side,” Mr Sivashailam explained.

Praveen Sood, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security), said the notification is ready and the diversion map will be issued a day before BMRCL commences work on CMH Road.

Meanwhile, technical and financial evaluation of the rolling stock (train coach) tenders are currently on by BMRCL, which hopes to finalise and announce the selected global consortia to build stainless steel coaches.

Alternative Plan 1
Traffic from Minsk Square, approaching Manipal Centre, can travel on Halasuru Road, Murphy Road, Old Madras Road, 80 ft Road Junction or 100 ft Road junction to reach Indiranagar, CMH Road or surrounding areas.
Alternative Plan 2
Traffic from M G Road, approaching Trinity Circle, can travel on Trinity Church Road, Airport Road, Airport Road flyover loop to Indiranagar and 100 ft Road to reach Indiranagar, CMH Road, or surrounding areas.

Is the City geared up to face bigger challenge?

Is the City geared up to face bigger challenge?
DH News Service, Bangalore, DHNS:
The eight serial blasts of low intensity in the City caused no substantial damage to property and the loss of life was limited to one.

But the explosions were high enough to expose Bangalore’s vulnerability to larger threats, and raise serious questions about the City’s ability to manage man-made disasters.

It was clear that, despite crores of rupees being spent by the State government on armchair discussions on disaster management, the mechanism existed mostly on paper.

Fire Force and Home Guards officials had recently announced that emphasis was being laid on disaster management and the government was roping in around a lakh volunteers in the State. More than 10,000 would be in Bangalore alone to manage any untoward situation, they had claimed. But forget the thousands, the authorities themselves were groping in the dark at the crucial moment.

Rumours reigned over the City as the authorities did not even have a clear picture of the blasts — number and timing — even hours after the explosions.

The government had created a civil defence chief warden post and picked up an ex-military person for the post which carries perks including a car, orderlies and office. But when the moment of reckoning came, Bangaloreans had only rumours and themselves to fall back upon.

When contacted, Home Guards and Civil Defence authorities said the work related to the blasts were dealt with by the City police. The Fire and Emergency Services had acted on the spot and done what they were supposed to do. The Home Guards and Civil Defence was only a special invitee. “So far, we have not been invited for any special meeting by the Chief Minister. So, there is no role for us right now,” said Khalil-ur-Rahman, IGP, Home Guards and Civil Defence.

Warnings, but no action
The 2005 shootout at the Indian Institute of Science had clearly indicated that Bangalore was not prepared at all for a large-scale terror attack. But that did not improve matters. The latest round of blasts has only reiterated the short comings in police’s capacity to strike back and preparedness.

Top brass in the Anti-terrorist Cell and the State Intelligence stressed one point: the Karnataka police are the most efficient and highly skilled personnel in the country, but their energies are utilised just to nab thieves, dacoits, accused in different crimes and to solve murder cases. Most of their time is utilised for bandobust activities, managing traffic, providing security for VIPs and so on.

Said an official in the Intelligence Department: At present, the police department is facing shortage of manpower. The government has not provided them with sophisticated weapons. Many restrictions demoralise them from acting quickly, he added.

The need of the hour is to train the policemen to tackle terror-related eventuality. Terrorists are using several means to strike. They are well-equipped in terms of weapons and technology. When terrorist can easily acquire the latest technology and weapons, why not the police, he wanted to know. It was high time the government strengthened the Anti-terrorist Cell, he said.

The police should keep strict vigils at all the entry points to the City and be alert in the areas which could provide safe hide out for terrorists. Major crowded areas like railway station, shopping malls, bus stand, airport and other public places should be kept under alert, he suggested.

PIL for widening

PIL for widening
Bangalore, DHNS:

A public interest litigation has been filed in the Karnataka High Court on Friday demanding the widening of the subway to prevent the chaotic traffic near the Benniganahalli underpass.

The road passing through the Benniganahalli is six-lane and around 120 feet wide whereas at Benniganahalli underpass the width of the road narrows to 35 feet. Everyday on this road around 12,000 vehicles pass, which lead to a chaotic traffic at the underpass.

For the past four years, the underpass widening work had been put on the backburner as there was confusion over the agency that should execute the work: National Highways Authority of India or the Railways, or the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike.

The petition has been filed mainly to seek High Court’s intervention for the speedy construction of a six-lane wide underpass.

The HC on Friday rejected a petition seeking the cancellation of the BDA notice of acquiring the private land for the construction of a road at Visveswaraya Layout. While rejecting the petition, Justice Huluvadi J Ramesh maintained that public interests are bigger than the personal interests.

Lax officials let hoardings thrive in Bangalore City

Lax officials let hoardings thrive in Bangalore City
By Basavaraj Itnaal, DH News Service, Bangalore:
Even after the revision of BMP advertisement bylaw in 2006, illegal hoardings continue to thrive in the city.

The issue came up for discussion in the Legislative Council recently and the government has ordered the Palike to not issue any fresh hoarding licences. But the hoarding operators in the city couldn’t care less. For, the Palike has always failed to pull down any hoarding erected without permission. Further, hoarding contractors easily obtain stay order from the courts but Palike fails to get them vacated.

BBMP Special Commissioner Jayram Raje Urs told Deccan Herald that the civic body will take all measures to curb the menace. He said that a special squad will be constituted to remove all hoardings, banners and buntings erected in Zone A, where no form of outdoor advertisement is allowed. “We will ask the Palike legal cell to appeal before the courts to vacate the stay, so that BBMP can get its revenue due from the hoardings,’’ he said.

However, the Palike website carries faulty records. According to the website, the bustling Gandhinagar area has merely 31 hoardings. A cursory count, however, shows the number exceeds the figure by more than three times. It’s the same story elsewhere in the city, with the civic body reporting just 27 hoardings in Jayanagar, 13 in Basavanagudi, 2 in Chamarajpet, 12 in Malleswaram and just one in Chickpet. To make the data look huge, the BMP has put the data two or three times in the ward lists.

In the past, city mayors have made much noise on the issue but it was never followed with concrete action.
In 2005, Mayor R Narayanaswami had pulled up officials for their laxity in pulling down unauthorised hoardings. His successor Mumtaz Begum though boasted of initiating action against the illegal hoardings, nothing was done. In Shivajinagar ward which Begum represented, the BBMP records only 31 hoardings.

Interestingly, the BBMP says it has not allowed any hoardings in 33 wards, which include commercial hubs like K R Market, Mathikere, Basaveshwarnagar, Cottonpet and Yeshwanthpur.

Mr Urs said that the Palike would take a relook at the situation and improve enforcement mechanism.

No place to dump garbage

No place to dump garbage
Bangalore, DHNS:
The BBMP spends a whopping Rs 90 crore per year on door-to-door collection of garbage. More than 500 trucks are deployed by BBMP and its contractors, to collect and transport about 3000 tonnes of garbage every day. But the Palike does not have the facility to dispose even half this amount.

BBMP’s service contractor Gopinath Reddy told Deccan Herald that sanitation in the city has been affected due to the lack of adequate capacity landfills. “The Palike has operationalised a landfill site near Mavallipura on Hesarghatta road, after a delay of more than two years and another facility near Doddaballapura recently, both of whichcan accomodate about 100 trucks each. This leaves us with 300 truckloads of garbage that have nowhere to go,’’ he said.

Not co-ordinated
Reddy said that the Palike also made garbage transportation tougher by not co-ordinating with the traffic police. “Recently many trucks, on their way to Doddaballapura, were apparently caught by the police for transporting garbage. The locals had complained that garbage trucks were a nuisance. As per the contract agreement the Palike too had agreed to provide adequate landfill facility. It has been nearly two years and we are yet find enough place to dump garbage,’’ he said.

On the other hand, BBMP joint commissioner (health) U A Vasantha Rao said that the Palike was in the process of creating landfills. He said that the Mavallipura and Doddaballapura landfill sites will shortly be able to take 100 tonnes more each, everyday. Rao said that a waste-to-energy unit is planned near Mandur.

'Blasted' can!

'Blasted' can!
DH News Service, Bangalore:
The spate of bomb blasts across the country, has everyone on their toes. But for a resident of Jayanagar T Block, there was shocker he will not forget for a long time

Dayanand, a civil engineer had as usual been out on Sunday for his shopping, when his daughter called him on his mobile and said a loud blast had taken place at his home. Taken aback and shell shocked, he rushed back home only to find his shaving foam can burst open.

Narrating his experience to Deccan Herald, he said, “It was 11.30 am and the incidents of the past few day were still fresh in my mind. My daughter called me to inform of a explosion in my bathroom. For a moment, I was terrified.When I rushed back, I discovered that it was only my shaving foam tin can, manufactured by a reputed personal care company, that was lying unused that exploded. It had burst open. The pressure must have built up. It was half used” he said.

Dayanand added that he did not expect a product manufactured by a reputed firm to burst open.

“I would want this incident to be an eye-opener for others. Hopefully it will create an awareness that unused shaving cans can explode. Fortunately, I wasn’t home when it occurred. It could have been a close shave. ” he observed.

Toying with intelligence

Toying with intelligence
By R Venkatesh,DH News Service, Bangalore:
An elaborate plan to subvert peace appears to be at work in the State, going by the seizure of a trunkful of ammonium nitrate, which was the main ingredient in the bombs that went off in Bangalore on Friday, near Channapatna night.

With the haul being a tip of the iceberg, massive quantities of incendiary material appear to be in circulation across the State, raising the spectre of the possibility of recurrence of serial blasts at places other than Bangalore.

In fact, there have been several instances of explosive material being tested on the outskirts of the City and other towns of the State. But jurisdictional police have never found them grave enough to warrant their attention.

Failed intelligence
The Bangalore blasts and the Channapatna haul drive home the point of intelligence failure in pre-empting the acts of subversion. Even a cursory glance at the happenings in the intelligence set-up of the State is enough to realise the dismal state of affairs.

Officers of IG rank have been helming the State intelligence apparatus for sometime now, while the post was always held by those of ADGP rank.

This is no trifling hierarchical matter though as an ADG rank officer would usually be an IPS officer who can communicate with his counterparts in neighbouring states and top Central super sleuths who are always senior IPS officials.

An IG rank officer helming the State intelligence apparatus also means that it is generally a KPS promotee being rewarded for loyalties which include running errands to political bosses.
Even within the State, servile officers heading the intelligence apparatus may just fail to command the attention other top police brass.

As former IPS officer chuckled, nowadays the caste and proximity to the rulers matter while promoting an officer to the State intelligence chief’s post. The downgrading of the post to by political bosses to accommodate their loyal men, means that the post has lost its sanctity as well.

The trend of nominating servile officials for the intelligence chief’s post began during the H D Kumaraswamy regime.

True posts!
An intelligence chief of those days was believed to be neckdeep in the chief minister’s personal affairs. He was jokingly referred to as a core member of the kitchen cabinet.

You can't blame the officer personally as that was what was expected out him. In fact, the officer himself used to personally keep an eye on the internecine internal feuds of a ruling party in those days.

Friday’s blasts might hopefully jolt the ruling class into stopping the trivialisation of the intelligence chief’s post.
Else, the State will have to pay a heavy price in the days to come.

Live bomb reignites Friday scare

Live bomb reignites Friday scare
DH News Service, Bangalore:
Even before the drama unleashed by Friday's serial blasts could die down, a live bomb at Madivala Junction sent the Bangalore police into a tizzy on Saturday morning.

Under intense pressure after the eight serial blasts, the police breathed free only after the bomb was defused before it could cause any damage. High drama ensued at the junction on Hosur Road near The Forum mall. Fully equipped with anti-explosive devices and apparel, the bomb disposal squad were at the spot soon after the police received an alert.

The police were on high alert, and didn’t want a repeat of Friday’s blasts that killed a woman and injured seven others.

Camouflaged as a pot, the deadly explosive was spotted about 200 meters away from the mall, next to a makeshift tea stall and adjacent to the KEB quarters wall. The police were alerted at around 10:45 am by a makeshift tea stall vendor.

Seeds of suspicion
The vendor claimed that he saw a person in his mid-twenties and sporting a red T-shirt placing a suspicious looking bucket-like object at the junction before taking to his heels.

A few wires sprouting out of the object, sowed seeds of suspicion in the vendor. Soon the men in uniform were all over the place. Police Commissioner Sha-nkar Bidari stood patiently and watched the entire proceedings. He confirmed later that the bomb comprised a microchip, detonator, chemicals, electrical wires, timer and oil packed and sealed in a small bucket-shaped cement pot. Friday’s bombs too had used similar material. The Commissioner said the police had some definite leads and were working on them.

Tension, curiosity
For onlookers and the weekend crowd that had started gathering at the mall, the bomb was cause for big concern and curiosity.

After all, Hosur Road had been in the eye of the terror scare on Friday with five of the eight explosions being reported either on the road or off it.

A huge crowd had assembled and a big posse of mediamen were at the site before a crack team of the National Security Guard (NSG) arrived to dismantle the bomb. Amid mounting tension, the NSG personnel went about their task. One of them, suitably armoured for the task, inched closer, even as the crowd looked on from a distance.

Once he defused the bomb, the crowd broke into whistles and cheers. The celebrations had to be regulated by a mild lathicharge by the men in khaki.

Scourge clouds City's recovery

Scourge clouds City's recovery
DH News Service, Bangalore:
Shattered by Friday's eight serial blasts, Bangalore made a slow but steady recovery towards regaining normalcy on Saturday.

But the much fiercer and deadlier Ahmedabad blasts almost put the brakes on Bangaloreans’ march to peace later in the evening. Television images of death and destruction in the Gujarat city had the Bangalorean relive the Black Friday’s fear and anxiety.

In the morning, Bangalore was definitely on the recovery path. However, there was a blip in the City’s efforts to return to normal: the detection of a live bomb near The Forum mall, Koramangala before noon. With frenzied onlookers and fully attired bomb disposal squad members in action, the entire area plunged into tension: till the bomb was defused, that is.

As the day wore on, the Central Business Districts picked up life. Crowds were back in malls as well as on M G Road, Brigade Road and Avenue Road.

It was apparent that Bangaloreans wanted to send a message that they had defeated the nefarious designs of terror merchants.

But once the news of the Ahmedabad blasts started pouring in, crowds began dwindling. People apparently preferred going back home and watching television updates. Kempegowda Bus Station too witnessed a drop in footfalls as the KSRTC saw close to 500 cancellations in advance reservations, due to the fear factor.

But for the policemen, it was yet another tireless day as they stood vigil to ensure that no life was put in peril. A tourist, Visheshana from UP, said: “We Indians are not safe anywhere. The places known as paradises are turning into hell. Look at Kashmir, it is bleeding. Bangalore never had such an image but here too the radical forces have spread their tentacles.”

Focus on Channapatna link

Focus on Channapatna link
DH News Service, Channapatna/Bangalore:
Channapatna appears to be emerging as a major link in the serial blasts that rocked Bangalore on Friday. Late on Saturday night, police recovered a trunkful of ammonium nitrate, which was the main ingredient in the bombs that went off in Bangalore, from Channapatna.

It has also come to light that a minor explosion took place in the toy town, 70 km from here, on July 24 last (Thursday). No one was injured in the blast, which resembled the Bangalore explosions. Explosive material placed in cement pots were used in Bangalore and Channapatna. The blast occurred at 11th cross in Kuvempunagar area of the town and close to the spot where buses ferrying foreign tourists generally stop.

The DG&IGP, R Sri Kumar, and his senior colleagues rushed to the town on Saturday night and personally took stock of the situation. IGP Kamal Pant said that “the material seized, about seven to eight kg, prima facie appears similar to the ones used in the Bangalore blasts”.Home Minister V S Acharya also confirmed the seizure.
Asked whether the Channapatna incident was a sort of rehearsal for the Bangalore blasts, Pant said it was too early to come to any conclusion. “We are investigating all angles.”

However, sources said that the Bangalore blasts and Channapatna explosion were the handiwork of same people.The perpetrators were believed to have planted the bomb in Channapatna on Thursday last before leaving to Bangalore in a green omni vehicle. They were said to have planted bombs at Nayandahalli, Madiwala, Adugodi and R R M Roy Road on Thursday itself.The Channapatna bomb was timed to go off the same day, while the Bangalore explosives went off the next day.

Crackdown on?
Reports from Channapatna and neighbouring Ramanagara, meanwhile, said that the police have launched intensive combing operations in both the towns. Locals and clergy are being taken into confidence by the police, who are rounding up newcomers, particularly those from North India.

Monday, July 28, 2008

BIAL’s handling of passengers irks aviation ministry

BIAL’s handling of passengers irks aviation ministry
Sindhu Bhattacharya
Monday, July 28, 2008 03:36 IST

NEW DELHI: The Bangalore International Airport (BIAL) just keeps courting controversies.

First, the issue of keeping the old HAL airport open resurfaced with the Karnataka chief minister raising the issue recently. And now, the ministry of civil aviation has expressed its displeasure over the new airport’s passenger handling capacity.

In fact, the ministry has already asked the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to determine whether BIAL management’s claim — that the airport is yet to reach its peak passenger capacity — is valid, by calculating its peak passenger handling capacity and the capacity in terms of million passengers per year.

According to industry estimates, BIAL is capable of handling only about 9 million passengers against the current traffic of 10.5 million.

The ministry has suggested that BIAL either construct a temporary terminal to handle extra passenger traffic till the proposed extension is completed or reduce commercial space inside the integrated terminal building to make more space for domestic

Civil aviation secretary Ashok Chawla was disappointed at the way BIAL has dealt with the issues. “It is true that Bangalore airport was initially planned for lesser traffic and passenger traffic grew at a faster-than-anticipated rate. But unlike the Hyderabad airport (which is also a greenfield airport) management, the managers of BIAL have been unable to adequately respond to the changed market scenario.”

Does this inability to respond to market dynamics stem from the way the airport management is structured? While GMR is the principal investor in the Hyderabad airport (which also faced a similar unprecedented growth in passenger traffic but managed to create adequate capacity mid-way), BIAL is a consortium comprising L&T, Siemens Project Ventures and Zurich Airport and perhaps needs a longer consultation process to approve changes.

Besides, if the BIAL management now agrees to the ministry’s assessment that traffic has already outgrown terminal capacity, demands for keeping the HAL airport open will gain ground further.

Chawla said both the options — creating temporary capacity in the form of an additional terminal or reducing space allocated commercially for eating joints, etc — are being discussed and a final decision would be taken in the next two weeks.

Since reduction in commercial space will have direct repercussions on BIAL’s revenue generation, the idea of creating an additional, albeit temporary, terminal capacity looks to be the most feasible option.