Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New airport takes off amid turbulence

New airport takes off amid turbulence

Anil Kumar Sastry

— Photo: AP

Complaints galore: The Joint Committee of the State Legislature is yet to submit its report on the amenities at the Bengaluru International Airport.

BANGALORE: The opening of the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) in May this year ushered in a new era in air travel with BIA being the first airport of international standards in the State.

However, the long drive, particularly from the southern parts, the user development fee, and amenities at the BIA being not up to scratch came in for considerable flak.

The opening of the BIA itself was ridden in controversy amid a fierce debate whether to keep the old HAL Airport open or not. Finally, the airport opened to commercial traffic on May 23 amid several shortcomings. After much sound and fury by air passengers about the facilities and the general perception that the airport was not truly international, the State Legislature constituted a Joint Committee to study the case. The Committee is yet to submit the report.

The BIA’s distance from the city made the connectivity issue all the more pressing. The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had promised signal-free travel to the airport by working on traffic junctions and widening the Bangalore-Bellary Road within its jurisdiction.

The first of the improved junctions, the magic box underpass, was opened at the Cauvery Junction. Till now, the BBMP has completed seven such projects while the one at the Sanjaynagar junction is under progress. Also, BBMP opened two pedestrian subways — near the CBI junction and the Hebbal Police Station.

While the high speed rail link to BIA from the city is still waiting government clearance, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has proposed to build an elevated expressway from Hebbal to BIA. The State Government’s earlier proposal of an expressway appears to have been shelved.

Foreseeing the requirement for an efficient transport system to BIA from the city, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) conceived the idea of operating Volvo buses from different parts of the city to the BIA. Named Vayu Vajra, these coaches are specially designed with space for luggage.

Even so, there are any number of private vehicles and taxis ferrying the passengers and their number is rising as are accidents en route. While 84 people had died in 79 accidents within the entire North-East Traffic Sub Division in 2007, 94 people died in 89 accidents from January 1 to December 25, 2008 just on the Bangalore-Bellary Road. BIA’s opening resulted in a quantum leap in traffic on this road.

While 15 people died in as many fatal accidents till April 2008, in May there were five fatal accidents and six deaths; eight accidents and 11 deaths in June; 14 accidents and as many deaths in July; 11 accidents and as many deaths in August; 12 accidents and as many deaths in September; eight accidents and eight deaths in October; nine accidents and 10 deaths in November and seven accidents and as many deaths as on December 25.

Pedestrians on the stretch between Hebbal and the trumpet interchange have become vulnerable as it allows vehicles to drive at high speed.

Lack of safe pedestrian crossings at many places, including the Kodigehalli junction, Byatarayanapura, Kogilu junction and other places have also contributed to pedestrian fatalities.

Garden City no more!

Garden City no more!

Chitra V. Ramani

Bangalore is losing its tree-lined avenues to development

Bangalore: “I used to walk to Maharani’s Arts and Science College from Malleswaram. I would be tired by the time I got half way, but would feel refreshed at once after reaching Palace and Seshadri Road. These two landmark tree-lined avenues are unrecognisable now,” lamented octogenarian G.S. Anasuya.

This year, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) launched a flurry of road-widening projects, and with 91 roads earmarked for “development”, thousands of trees are slated to face the axe. Arterial roads such as Race Course Road, Palace Road and Seshadri Road — all of which were characteristic of the erstwhile “garden city” — have lost hundreds of large, ancient and beautiful trees over the latter half of the year.

What was only the first leg of this project had the greens up in arms with a series of protests and even cases were filed in various courts. In accordance with a High Court order, for the first time, an empowered committee on road widening was set up with the mandate of monitoring the environmental impact of development projects. Though the committee’s work has been mired in controversy for the better part of the year, this and the fact that a public platform was created for citizens to voice their opinions in these projects, was seen as a landmark achievement.

M.F. Saldanha, former Judge of High Court of Karnataka, said that over the past year, about 28,000 trees had been felled between Bangalore and Hassan. Close to six million birds had died due to this, he averred. “If we continue to allow civic authorities to continue at this rate, I am afraid that by 2010, there may not be any trees standing in Bangalore.”

The paradigm of urban planning had to change, Mr. Saldanha said.

“We have the laws, rules and regulations in place already. The need of the hour is to ensure that the authorities concerned adhered to them. The judiciary should also take an active role in this regard," he added. Environmentalist S.G. Neginhal believes that development should not happen at the cost of the environment. “Many trees that have been mindlessly felled had been planted by the Diwans of Mysore. We should not trade the city’s green cover for the sake of development,” he said.

Mr. Neginhal said that the authorities had not taken interest in planting saplings to replace the trees that have been felled.

Have no doubts, Bangalore is still India’s IT capital

Have no doubts, Bangalore is still India’s IT capital
Anshul Dhamija | TNN

Bangalore: Bangalore continues to be the number one destination for IT/ITeS companies in the country.
For all those who thought Chennai and Hyderabad were eating into Bangalore’s status as the IT capital of India, here are some facts.
The annual year-end report by global real estate consultants Cushman & Wakefield shows that Bangalore witnessed the highest commercial space absorption in the country of 10.4 million sqft — the highest in the country for the fifth consecutive year. Of that, IT and ITeS companies absorbed 88%, followed by automotive, telecommunications and other sectors.
Leading the way was i-Flex Solution, which absorbed 1,100,000 sqft of commercial space in Whitefield, followed by 350,000 sqft of space each by ABB and ANZ IT in Whitefield and the Marathalli-Sarjapur belt.
Chennai absorbed only 4.1 million sqft of commercial space of the 9.8 million sqft of supply this year, as against its absorption of 6.5 million sqft of space in 2007.
Hyderabad witnessed a whopping 67% drop in commercial space absorption — from last year’s figure of 4 million sqft to only 1.3 million sqft this year. The total supply in the city amounted to nearly 3.8 million sqft.
Mumbai and the National Capital Region (NCR) absorbed 8.5 million sqft and 8.6 million sqft of commercial space in 2008 respectively.
The total commercial space absorption in the country’s main business metros that include Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, NCR and Pune was 36.7 million sqft, which is a 6% increase from last year’s 34.5 million sqft.
“Bangalore & Mumbai were the only two cities that showed an increase in absorption from last year,” reads the C&W report. In 2007 Bangalore absorbed around 10 million sqft of commercial space and in 2006 around 7.2 million sqft.
Meanwhile, commercial rental rates in Bangalore appreciated between 4% and 9% in the peripheral areas and by a whopping 18% in the central business districts.
In comparison, the commercial rental rates in Chennai and Hyderabad dipped by about 5% to 10%.
Commenting on the report Kaustuv Roy, director of tenant strategies and solutions at Cushman & Wakefield said, “The absorption appears to be higher than last year on account of the pre-lease commitments that were signed in 2007. In cities like Mumbai, NCR, Pune and Bangalore, pre-commitments have a large part to play in the supply-absorption dynamics.”
Going forward, with the economic downturn attaining larger than life proportions, the demand for commercial space is likely to be on the downslide.
“This year, the fresh pre commitments have declined as compared to last year and the impact of this will be felt in the space absorption trends during 2009,” said Roy.

Public transport system in city needs revolutionary changes’

Public transport system in city needs revolutionary changes’

In response to the Public Eye on railway needs of Mangalore, V.A.P. Naik, a consultant in Kodical, says: “A day-train traversing 400 km should reach Bangalore in five hours in order to benefit both people and commerce. I travelled by a train between Osaka and Tokyo in 1972. It took 90 minutes to covering a distance of 600 km. Office-goers and traders travel daily in that train. Mangalore has the only port in the State. Yet, 75 per cent of State’s exports and imports happen through other ports, thus depriving the State of a huge revenue. Time is rife for bringing in revolutionary changes in the public transport system of the country.” A.J. Mendonce of Mallikatta says: “People, who frequently travel to Mangalore from north Kerala, do not have adequate train service to come here, thanks to the callous and indifferent attitude of the administrative and political bigwigs.

The promised Calicut-Goa Express is yet to run. Attention is needed to control pests of all types in the general and second class sleeper compartments in trains.

The seats and berths are rickety and uncomfortable. Late running of trains remains to be addressed.”

M.R. Prabhu, secretary of the Puttur-based Railway Yatrikara Sangha, says that Palghat Division of Southern Railway is continuing its non-responsive nature and step-motherly attitude towards Mangalore and surrounding areas, even though Mangalore contributes more than 50 per cent to its revenue earnings. A station near the Bajpe Airport will benefit passengers from north Kerala and Karwar, besides helping cargo movement. Political leaders should take up the issue with the Railways.

Which roads to avoid today

Which roads to avoid today

MK Madhusoodan. Bangalore

Parking will not be allowed on MG Road, from Anil Kumble junction up to Trinity Circle; on Brigade Road, from Arts and Crafts junction till Opera Junction; on Church Street, from its junction with Brigade Road up to its junction on St Marks Road; on Rest House Road, from its junction on Brigade Road with its junction with Museum Road; and Museum Road, from its junction on MG Road up to its junction with Old Madras Bank road.
No entry
There's no entry on MG Road, from Anil Kumble junction up to Residency Road junction; Brigade Road, from Cauvery Emporium junction to Opera junction; Church Street, from Brigade Road junction till Museum Road junction; Museum Road junction with MG Road till Old Madras Bank Road; Rest House Road; Kamaraj Road; Cubbon Road junction to Arts and Crafts Emporium; Residency Cross Road to MG Road Symphony theatre junction.
Where to park
There will be parking on both sides of Kamraj Road between Kamraj Road junction and Commercial Street junction; King's Road stretching from Bal Bhavan entry till Telephone House; Shivajinagar bus-stand parking area. On Brigade Road, only pedestrians will be allowed from MG Road junction to Opera junction. Walking in the opposite direction is prohibited. One can come back to MG Road via Residency Rd.

Flight movement improves in BIA

Flight movement improves in BIA
Bangalore, DHNS:

The fog situation at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in New Delhi, was a lot better with fewer flight disruptions at the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) here on Tuesday.

With airline schedules going haywire during the past few weeks due to harsh winter conditions, resulting in low visibility, arrivals and departures were either disrupted or delayed. However, the situation improved slightly with just five delays and three cancellations to and from the national capital.

“Airlines across the board were affected. Tuesday saw Indian Airlines, Kingfisher, Jet and Spicejet announce delays. Many early morning flights took off at 8.30 am, a delay of an hour or more as against a four hour delay on Sunday and Monday” added BIA sources.

Pay mafia, get water

Pay mafia, get water

For the past 13 years the residents of Byatarayanapura have been paying their water bills to a local mafia and not the government. Both BBMP and BWSSB feign ignorance

Aditi Soni
Posted On Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 01:01:27 AM

Unlike in many parts of Bangalore, the residents of Byatarayanapura get uninterrupted water supply. Yet, for the past 13 years they have not paid their water bills.

No, it’s not because they are enjoying a freebie. Instead they dole out a constantly varying monthly amount to a shadowy mafia, widely believed to enjoy political patronage.

It all started in 1995. From 1995 to 2005, water supply was under City Municipal Corporation (CMC), who used to supply water 24X7 but never charged a single penny in return. Instead, it was the water mafia who took money from the residents.
With more than four lakh houses paying an average of Rs 45 each (this amount varies according to the goondas’ demands), the monthly collection amounts to Rs 1.80 crore.

After 2005, water connection and supply came under Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), but the situation persisted. The residents even approached BBMP officials who promised to look into the matter and take action by November 2007. The residents, quite predictably, are still waiting for some action.

With BWSSB taking charge six months ago, the situation seems to have worsened. The BBMP had handed over 319 bore wells to BWSSB in Byatrayanapura.

According to them however, a survey is to be done on the total water connections available in that area. “I filed an RTI through which I got to know that there are only 4,733 legal connections in the area,” said Jagadish. According to BWSSB officials, there are approximately four lakh water connections. Why this discrepancy in numbers? BWSSB officials refused to comment on this issue.

“Every month, the mafia stops the supply of water for about two days, an indication that it is time to pay up,” a resident said. He also said that there was no fixed time for the cut and it could happen any time during the month.

“And if we refuse to give them money they threaten to cut our water supply,” he added.

The BWSSB, incidentally, has not paid salaries to its employees in the area for the past three months. Recently, the employees went on a strike leaving residents without water for more than two days.

“Earlier, these water men used to get their salaries from both BWSSB and the water mafia. But since BWSSB has not collected money from us, they are running short of funds now,” said a resident.

On their part, BWSSB officials said it was too early for them to start giving water bills. “It’s just been six months since we have taken charge. It will take some time for us to finish the survey and start collecting revenue,” said M Kempayya, Assistant Executive Engineer, BWSSB.

According to BWSSB, the maintenance cost in Byatrayanapura amounts to Rs 22, 41,772 (approx). But the total revenue collected by the department has been almost zilch.

Local MLA Krishna Byre Gowda when queried on the issue claimed complete ignorance. “No one has ever brought such a thing to my notice. If I knew, I would have surely looked into the matter.”

About water bills, he thought that was BWSSB’s responsibility and should be addressed by them.

19 pro-Kannada activists nabbed

19 pro-Kannada activists nabbed

KSS men had disrupted a meet at Yavanika as it was being held in English

M K Madhusoodan. Bangalore

Police have arrested 19 activists of the Karnataka Sangharsha Samiti (KSS), a pro-Kannada organisation, for vandalising the second-floor meeting hall of Yavanika, a prestigious art and culture centre owned by the government.
The activists, who came in several vehicles from Bommanahalli, had barged into the meeting hall and disrupted a leadership and business meeting organised by a group called 'Leaders' on December 27, around 1 pm. Police said the group had damaged the window panes, furniture and electrical fittings in the hall. The state president of the samiti was arrested along with the members of his outfit.
The police also seized six tempos, four motorcycles and a sports utility vehicle belonging to the organisation.
Police said the group wanted to disrupt the meeting because it was being held in English. The organisers were charging the participants Rs 4,999 for attending it. According to police, the participants were forced to run for cover when the raiding party barged into the meeting hall. However, nobody was injured.
Yavanika has found a place in the IT city as the focal point of the state's cultural circuit.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BBMPs tax relief for Bangaloreans!

BBMPs tax relief for Bangaloreans!
Bangalores civic infrastructure remained a virtual mess through 2008, although a process of reconstruction began towards the year-end. Heres a roundup of how BBMP fared.

Any talk about 2008 and the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) ought to begin with the near total vacuum on the property tax collection front. Three quarters of the current financial year have passed, and a clarity on this critical revenue generation scheme is yet to emerge.

Going by Bangalore in-charge Minister R. Ashok’s latest assurance, the relaunch of the tax collection process might just be one more week away. But that has come after much delay, which has left the Palike cash-starved to meet Brand Bangalore’s mounting infrastructure and civic requirements. The BBMP, which was earlier set to introduce the Capital valuation System (CVS) backtracked from its decision following intense pressure from various civic groups and political outfits. Now, the old Self Assessment Scheme (SAS) is about to be back, but with a hike in rates.

The hike would be between four to 20 per cent over the previous year’s rate. So, people who paid Rs 3,000 as tax will have to fork out another Rs 600. Of course, the rates would depend where their property is located. Once the notification is issued, Bangaloreans will have three weeks to give their suggestions and objections. The process could have and should have begun in 2008!

According to one estimate, only 47 per cent of the buildings in Bangalore were taxed earlier. Under the new system, the Palike’s priority would definitely be to raise this percentage.

BBMP had earlier opted to bring even buildings on agriculture land under the tax net. But no taxes would be collected on structures that come up illegally on government land.

Another year without elections

Another year without elections

In the absence of an elected body, one-upmanship ruled the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike leading to a chaotic Bangalore in 2008. While garbage management was in disarray and roads were widened without a thought for greenery, development on some roads with “magic boxes” failed to weave much magic on the motorists.

The BBMP remained without an elected body for the third consecutive year, although the State got a new government. Talks about BBMP elections remained strong throughout the year, although delimitation was not finalised. Two ministers from Bangalore - R Ashok and Katta Subramanya Naidu - kept the election rhetoric on.
The year 2008 can well be described as one of experiments for the BBMP. The experiments were conducted mainly on the city roads with a catchy “magic” ring attached. Road widening programmes often meant loss of greenery. Such exercises taken up without public consensus meant the Garden City had virtually turned a Garbage City. To add more to the damage, scamsters authored a garbage scam. Land meant for garbage dump yards were sold and houses came up there, while the entire Bangalore city was full of filth. As if these weren’t enough, trees were chopped off for widening roads.

The BBMP may pat itself on the back for introducing the magic boxes in the city but the purpose was hardly served due to poor design. The Cauvery underpass was one classic example, where the design was hardly good enough to facilitate smooth traffic flow

BangaloreOne in expansion mode

BangaloreOne in expansion mode

The number of BangaloreOne centres and the range of services offered by them have seen a significant growth this year. With the opening of 20 new mini kiosks in February, the number of centres have increased to 40. The list of services available has also been growing notably with the inclusion of insurance premium payment facility, private bus ticket reservation and booking of select movie tickets.

Another service that is bound to be popular is the booking of railways tickets. The service introduced this year was stalled because of a technical glitch and is likely to be commenced shortly.

The 3-year-old concept for bill payment services either cash or through credit cards has now gained widespread public acceptance.

While most people appreciate the quality of service at these centres, complaints are usually heard about contradicting statements from the staff on the documents required for passport applications.

The business model has become a successful venture and similar centres have been set up in Hubli-Dharwad. More centres will be set up in Belgaum and Mysore. With the objective of one centre in a radius of every two kilometres, 80 more kiosks are in the pipeline.

9 months over, BBMP yet to deliver

9 months over, BBMP yet to deliver
DH News Service, Bangalore:

Nine months of this financial year passed for the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) without tax collection. Yet, the BBMP officials and Transport and Bangalore incharge Minister R Ashok are not ready with notification. The latest assurance is it would be ready within a week.

“Final shape to the property tax structure has been given. We thought of giving some more relief... some concession to the Bangaloreans, so the property tax collection was delayed,” said Ashok on Monday.
Briefing reporters after a meeting with the BBMP officials here, Ashok said the Palike will issue the notification within seven days after which people will have 21 days time to lodge their complaints or suggestions. Tax collection will begin after this period. The taxes can be paid in two installments, said the minister.
The minister added that the recommendations of the sub-committee were approved by the Cabinet. The committee recommended to keep the gross increase in taxes within 20 per cent, to remove cap of 2.5 times available under the self valuation scheme, to provide 50 per cent rebate for owner occupied properties and not to increase vacant land space in one of the six zones- F Zone.

One more zone

Ashok indicated that there will be one more zone in addition to six zones for the newly included 110 villages in the BBMP limits where the taxes will be as per the old rates. He said that the majority of people living in the new zone cannot afford high tax rates. He added that there will be a concession of five per cent for those paying taxes early. Also the cess rate has been cut from 34 per cent to 24 per cent. Besides, the benefit of depreciation of old building will be up to 70 per cent, Ashok said.

“Under no circumstance, the increase in tax will be more than 20 per cent as compared to previous years,” the minister added.

He also informed reporters that presently 6.5 lakh properties in old zones of Bangalore are taxed whereas around 5.5 lakh properties in the new zones will pay the taxes. Illegal structures in the new zones will also be taxed but it will not mean that the government is regularising it by taxing it, Ashok said.

Depreciation benefit

The data given by the minister show that the buildings which are older than 18 years will get a depreciation benefit of 21 per cent. If the owners of such old properties avail the 5 per cent concession for paying tax early, they would have to pay only four per cent extra property tax when compared to last year.

The matrix calculated by the minister for 17 years suggested that the per unit value of the residential property in Zone A will be Rs 3, Rs 2.40 in Zone B, Rs 2.16 in Zone C, Rs 1.80 in Zone D and Rs 1.44 in Zone E and Rs 1.20 in Zone F.

Property details

The tax will be based on the property details given by the owner but if the details are found to be wrong then the property owner will have to pay double the tax as penalty for lying to the BBMP authorities.
The government is also contemplating IT exemption to the property tax

Garbage: BDA asked to acquire land

Garbage: BDA asked to acquire land
DH News Service, Bangalore:

To tide over shortage of land bank for disposing nearly 30,000 tonnes of garbage collected everyday in the city, Medical Education Minister Ramachandra Gowda has suggested Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) to acquire at least 100 to 150 acres of land on city outskirts.

“Nearly 1,000 acres of land is required for garbage disposal. I have spoken to the BDA Commissioner to acquire lands for the purpose”, the minister said at a seminar organised by Environment Department here on Monday.
Blaming the Union and State governments for their inaction in addressing urban environmental challenges, Gowda said that recommendations by various committees on the issue were simply buried in files. The minister also castigated the Forest Department for failing to check land encroachment.

Bangalore University Registrar, Sanjay Veer Singh said that unbridled land encroachment had threatened wildlife. Expressing concern over scarcity of potable water in the nation, he observed, “Every house or building in Bangalore wants a borewell. With utilisation of drinking water for daily chores and draining of Cauvery water, it could be disaster for future generation”.

BIA gets Rs 18 crore safety device

BIA gets Rs 18 crore safety device

The new equipment will help Air Traffic Control personnel monitor movements of aircraft from the apron to runway

Gayatri Nair
Posted On Tuesday, December 30, 2008 at 01:07:23 AM

Visibility woes that plague Air Traffic Control (ATC) personnel at the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) are going to become a thing of the past.

The airport is all set to commission a Rs 18-crore device to improve the monitoring of aircraft at the apron (where the planes are parked), taxiway and the runway.

the control device
Called the Airport Surface Movement Control System (ASMCS), the device will assist ATC personnel, who now monitor the movements of aircraft using a high frequency radio communication channel. But on foggy mornings and nights, visibility becomes low and ASMCS is adept at handling such situations.

“The ATC staff depend on their eyes and little else to monitor the movement of aircraft. With this equipment in place, this job will become easier and create accident-free conditions at the airport,” an ATC personnel told Bangalore Mirror.

“Every vehicle and aircraft in the operational area has a transponder. As soon as they enter the operational area, they can be spotted on the ASMCS radar and their location verified,” he said, explaining the device.

The Italian connection
Though the Italian company Selex has installed the device at BIA it has not been commissioned for reasons that are still not clear.

On the delay in commissioning, BIA sources said it was because both the ATC and the Airport Authorities of India (AAI) were at loggerheads.

Commissioning delays
While the ATC is blaming the AAI for the delay in commissioning the equipment, the AAI has rubbished the same, claiming that the equipment is not critical for the functioning of ATC.

“About ten days ago, a letter was sent to A N Vishwanatha, general manager of Air Traffic Management, AAI, asking him to commission the equipment. But we are still awaiting his reply,” said ATC sources about the delay.

When contacted, Vishwanatha rubbished the charges. “The company, Selex, which has to configure the equipment, was busy with its installation at the Hyderabad airport. They were supposed to come to Bangalore in the beginning of December. But they went back to Italy in the wake of recent terror attacks. They will be back in January and the work will be completed,” he said.

The equipment, according to him, was not vital for the airport. “It is not such a vital equipment, keeping in
mind the traffic density at BIAL,” he said.

Citing the example of Mumbai airport, where the equipment has not been in use for the past ten years, Viswanatha said that if it would be of use in the future when air traffic improves. “Yes, in the future, when traffic density increases, it will be helpful. But now it does not really matter,” said Viswanatha.



Deepthi M R
Posted On Tuesday, December 30, 2008 at 01:03:55 AM

With the power scenario becoming bleak, the government is all set to reimpose load-shedding in the city and other parts of the state. Bangaloreans will have to go without electricity for at least an hour every day in January and February.

Subsequently, the daily duration of power cuts is likely to increase. In the past few weeks, the state’s consumption has gone up considerably, from its normal 110-115 Million Units (MU) to 120-125 MU. The generation capacity of the state from all sources is 115 million units.

“We will be discussing the current power scenario at the Cabinet sub-committee meeting on Tuesday, 30 December. We want to review the situation as the demand for power will be close to 130-135 million units per day in the months to come, especially in summer. We need to save up now to meet the demands later,” said Principal Secretary K Jairaj.

Although the government seems keen on assuring uninterrupted power, in the future it will be forced to embrace power cuts due to unmanageable peak load. Currently, Karnataka is facing a hydel shortage of 1,961 MU and this coupled with increased demand has been the main concern of distribution companies. Although the energy department has promised that they would buy power from other states to meet local needs, it will be a hard task as they have to survive till June next year.

“Once summer sets in, the need for power will increase and board exams will also begin. If power is shut down during the time of exams, it would cause disturbance among the public also. Therefore an alternative should be found”, said P S Jagannatha Gupta, former technical advisor, Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation.

In fact, officials from the energy department had quite sometime ago gone on record that they will be maintaining the daily power consumption of the state at 115 MU but if the need for more power arises then they would resort to load-shedding. The department had resorted to load-shedding more than four times in 2007. In 2008 the situation has been slightly better with the department resorting to load-shedding only once in November and calling it off within a week.

Dear Johnson, your market stinks. So does shopping

Dear Johnson, your market stinks. So does shopping

This century-old market needs the urgent attention and intervention of civic
authorities. It's more than a market; it's quintessential Bangalore. DNA's Elizabeth S and Nishant Ratnakar do a reality check of a landmark mart.

Elizabeth S and Nishant Ratnakar

Cleanliness brings back shoppers
1. Broken promises
Walking down the century-old Johnson Market seems like a time warp, all thanks to BBMP which has ignored this heritage market for decades now. Shopkeepers here have been subjected to regular, broken promises of renovation. Now they are indifferent and bitter. Syed, a shopkeeper, says: "Mayor Begum Mumtaz inspected the area in 2006 and there were talks about regular clean-ups of the market, repair of the drains etc; but nothing has been done so far. Why are the authorities talking about demolishing this historical market? All we are asking for is renovation and maintenance."
Sanwal, a vegetable vendor, says: "We are tired of complaining. The floors have holes, the walls look like they have never been whitewashed."
Esther, a housewife and a regular shopper, says: "The market looks like a dungeon or a store house, it should be maintained properly."
Solutions: Renovate the market; make it shopper-friendly.

2. Dirty rest-rooms
A big put down about Johnson Market is the absence of clean rest rooms, which shoppers can rely on. The market has many shops but the lack of facilities to refresh, repells many shoppers from having a bargain here. Existing toilets in the market are in shambles and have not been cleaned for years, shoppers say. Haji, owner of a tea stall, says: "Neither us nor our customers have any facility to refresh ourselves. Muslims usually go to the mosque nearby; others find hotels or walk up till the end of the road and utilise the use and pay facility. And some people urinate all over the walls on the other side and make the market dirty and unhygienic."
There are toilets but no one cleans it, the water tanks in these toilets are also not filled. Flies thrive here. Asif, a businessman, says: "This is a good market. With some maintenance, it can be made very classy. People buy vegetables and their meat here, it should be a clean place."
Solutions: Clean up rest-rooms and maintain hygiene.

3. Shopping in the dark
It's hard to tell it's day, even at noon, if you are in the inner corridor of Johnson Market. The place is cold, dark and dingy. The shopowners on the periphery say unlike the shops in the corridor, they, at least, have electricity. Their concern is the frequency of power cuts.
Maulana, a shopowner, says: "Load shedding is a huge problem. Power cuts happen all the time. There seems to be no schedule for power cuts; this interrupts our business, since this area is so dingy."
Matten, a veteran and a regular, says: "Erratic power cuts are a major irritant." But some shopkeepers in the inner corridor of the market don't even have a power connection. Ahmed, a shop owner, says: "The corporation is responsible for power in this corridor; it has not paid the bills for a decade. We can't depend on the authorities to help us out. We have arranged for our own meters so that we can have electricity inside though we are paying the bills."
Solutions: BESCOM should step in and streamline the power supply to the market.

Not-so-harsh draft SAS unveiled

Not-so-harsh draft SAS unveiled

20% cap on increase in property tax over last year's mooted, education cess scrapped

The city has now been divided into seven zones. Each zone has its notional rental value to assess property tax

Basavaraj Itnaal. Banagalore
A cabinet subcommittee headed by transport minister R Ashok met on Monday and finalised the guidelines for the modified self assessment system (SAS) of property tax evaluation to be implemented in the state.
The modified SAS now goes to the cabinet for approval. The subcommittee decided to re-classify Greater Bangalore into six zones for valuation purposes, apart from designating 110 villages which were added to BBMP as a separate zone.
The re-classification was necessary as BBMP now includes about 520 sq km of new area. The valuation zones would be named A to F and guidance values for computation of tax are fixed.
The new SAS uses Unit Area Value (UAV) method. UAV fixes a notional monthly rental value (MRV) of your property depending on which of the six zones it is located. Using the UAV, the owners of property need to file self declaration of property tax.
The MRV will be different for residential and commercial properties in any zone. The MRVs have not yet been announced. But MRVs are capped by the 20% ceiling announced on Monday.
While there is no rebate for rented properties, self-occupied properties get a 50% rebate in the assessed tax.
In 2006 when Greater Bangalore was formed by merging eight local bodies on the outskirts of the city, 110 villages too came into BBMP fold.
Ashok said bringing property tax rate here on par with that of the city would be hard on residents.
He said a special rate which is lighter on villagers would be announced.
"It is unfair for us to make villagers pay high taxes when we are yet to provide better infrastructure to them," he said. The earlier avatar of SAS had mentioned a slab of 250% on the increase. That is if you had paid a property tax of Rs 100 in 2005, it could not go beyond Rs 350 in 2006.
But Ashok said this slab would go in the modified SAS. On the other hand, he said in no case one would pay tax higher by 20% over last tax paid. When asked to clarify, the minister said that 250% ceiling would be removed only in case of wrong declarations. Ashok told that the cess on property tax has been reduced to 24% from the earlier 34%.
He said no education cess would be collected. Further, if your property fell in a new zone after re-classification, it would not go more than one notch up. That is if your property belonged to zone D earlier, it can only appreciate to C and not B or A.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Aero India show to begin from Feb 11

Aero India show to begin from Feb 11
DH News Service, Bangalore:

The seventh edition of the nation’s largest air-show, ‘Aero India’ will begin here from February 11 to 15, 2009.

The air show being organised by the Defence Exhibition Organisation, Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government of India and managed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at the Air Force Station in Yelahanka, the seventh edition will see more than 500 firms (300 international and 200 Indian) with participating countries such as Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Netherlands, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Spain, Ukraine and the United States.

A strong participation from the Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU) viz, Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is also expected at the exposition.

Having already carved a niche for itself globally as a premier aerospace exhibition, with six successful editions organised between 1996 and 2007, the show aims at bringing under one roof, exhibitors from all around the globe to showcase the best in Civil and Defence aviation. Aero India includes both flight and static displays of a wide range of civil and military aircrafts from leading manufacturers, vendors and suppliers.

India’s opening up of the defence sector to foreign direct investment, the ongoing modernisation plan of its armed forces and enormous new opportunities in the civil aviation sector have opened innumerable new avenues for investment.

Aero India 2009 will further provide an ideal window of opportunity for companies to not only network with the Indian industry but also to benefit from the sharing of expertise in the fields of R and D production and product support with other global players.

Aero India 2009 apart from displaying more than 100 military and civil aircrafts will also showcase the latest in the field of military and civil aircrafts, vital components for aircraft engines, use avionics systems and sub systems in the aviation industry, airfield radars and new age technologies used in the defence sector at exclusive chalets.
A seminar on aerospace technology will precede the expo on February 9 and 10, 2009.

Proposed new events at Aero India include a Vintage Aircraft Show, Space Pavilion, Dedicated Business Meetings and Aero Space HRD Focus.

Road dividers pose danger

Road dividers pose danger
DH News Service, Bangalore:
The new experiments of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike on road dividers are set to prove fatal for the commuters.

BBMP recently started laying road dividers on important roads like Promenade road and Kanakapura road. The same experiment is repeated in many other parts of Bangalore and other major roads will soon have the same kind of road dividers.

The matter of concern is that the road divider is almost two feet high which narrows further. The top of the road divider is square in shape with a very sharp edge. It will prove fatal for those who fall on it or even try to stand on it while attempting to cross the road. The thickness atop the divider is also very less.

The worrying part is that the divider has come up on Promenade Road, which has a good number of schools. A resident of the Promenade Road, KJ Ashok complained that the engineers who designed the divider lacked sense and did not think of consulting the residents. “The fallout of such a road divider will be fatal as school children venturing to cross the road might meet with an accident. Those falling on it may die, as the sharp-edged divider is sure to claim their lives,” said Ashok.

He demanded the BBMP authorities to stop the construction of the road divider immediately. “Probably it is the habit of the municipal authorities to spend money senselessly and then demolish it. A little discussion with the residents would have saved our hard-earned tax money going down the drain,” said Ashok.

No brakes on drag racing in city

No brakes on drag racing in city

Article Rank

Drag racing, once a common sight in the city’s central business district, has now shifted to the outskirts, espe- cially on the NICE Link Road
For them, it is a race with the time. As the clock strikes 12 in the night, the city’s drag racers are ready to hit the roads with their motorbikes.

For over a decade, drag racing is going unchecked in and around Bengaluru and more youths are taking a fancy for it.

The death of Mohammed Mukarram has once again brought into the spotlight the issue of drag racing. Additional commissioner of police (traffic and security) Pravin Sood said drag racers will be dealt with seriously and police is thinking of confiscating their vehicles and cancelling their licence.

“A number of instances occur in the weekends where racers in a bid to avoid the police, lose their balance. The racers not only risk their lives but also put innocent peoples’ lives in danger,” IGP Sood added.

Drag racing, once a common sight in the city’s central business district, has now shifted to the outskirts but there are a few ‘groups’ who speed on city roads.

For instance, after the traffic police came down heavily on drag racers and booked cases against nearly 20 youngsters on the Intermediate Ring Road last year, the scene has shifted to the outskirts especially on the NICE Link Road and Bellary Road. But after the opening of the international airport which led to an increase in traffic and the toll on using the NICE Road, the racers’ new turf is the HAL Airport Road at midnight and early morning.

Traffic police is now contemplating action against drag racers after one youth accidentally entered a defence compound and was shot dead. But drag racers are asking for their space to vroom.

“Drag racing is a sport and we want it to be legal. Sadly, Bengaluru never supported this and Speed Run was shifted to Hyderabad from Bengaluru,” said Sheky, a regular racer.

“Since bike racing is noisy, more racers are now opting for cars by modifying them. The energy boosters are purchased from Mumbai and the favourite roads are Mysore Road and Tumkur Road. The stretch between Bidadi and Mandya on Mysore Road and Nelamangala toll gate and Dobspet on Tumkur Road are regular hangouts for car racers,” said G.K. another racer.

A few racers say injuries and crashes are common in such a form of racing, but most never come to light because of the fear of police.

Four years ago, a girl died after coming under a lorry when she was riding pillion with a drag racer on MG Road opposite Raheja Towers.

CM sets deadline for works

CM sets deadline for works
DH News Service, Bangalore:
Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has set a deadline of two months for the officials to deal with Bangalores civic issues to solve major problems of the city.

In what can be termed as BJP’s preparedness for the municipal elections, which will be held in the next few months, Chief Minister had a meeting with the Commissioners of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), Bangalore Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (BMRDA) and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) chairman. During the meeting, the CM set a deadline of two months to solve water problem faced by a majority of areas of the city.

Sources said that the CM has told the officials to set a target that, this summer there should not be any water problem anywhere in the city. Along with it, the CM has discussed about the progress in the Bangalore Metro Rail project. The CM was reportedly displeased with the inordinate delay in the Metro Rail work.

He pulled up the officials for the slow pace of work and extending the timeline for the completion of the projects. The issue of property tax collection and Sakrama too came up for discussion, where the CM asked the officials to resolve it at the earliest possible. Allowing of registration of revenue sites in Bangalore, which has been banned for the last two years, was also taken up for discussion. The CM discussed the pros and cons of allowing the registration of revenue sites. However, no decision was taken in the meeting.

‘Timber mafia behind axing of trees’

‘Timber mafia behind axing of trees’

Express News Service
First Published : 28 Dec 2008 09:00:19 AM IST
Last Updated : 28 Dec 2008 12:37:11 PM IST

BANGALORE: Former High Court judge M F Saldanha alleged on Saturday that the timber mafia was behind the largescale axing of trees in the city.

Speaking at a national conference on ‘Urban Environment - Present Scenario and Future Strategies’ here at Central College, Saldanha said that according to the environment research report, about 2,000 trees were chopped every month in Bangalore this year. “Last year alone around 28,000 trees were felled here,” he stated.

He said axing trees was not the only means for development of cities and researchers should find alternatives.

Emphasising the importance of conserving environment, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Shobha Karandlaje, said policy makers should be made aware of future strategies in protecting environment.

Shobha said the explosive growth of urban life has affected environment considerably.

The Minister lashed out at industries polluting the environment by violating Pollution Control Board norms. “It is high time we wake up to the deteriorating environment and see that it is our duty to keep the environment clean for future generations,” Shobha added.

She said universities and research institutes should chalk out strategies and proposals should be made to government based on their findings.

The conference was organised by the Department of Environmental Sciences, Bangalore University and the National Environmental Science Academy, New Delhi.

Bharatinagar suffers its zillion pains

Bharatinagar suffers its zillion pains

BBMP lorries dumping garbage at the children’s park in Bharatinagar.
First Published : 28 Dec 2008 08:58:11 AM IST
Last Updated : 28 Dec 2008 12:17:13 PM IST

BANGALORE: Despite the BBMP’s magnanimous allocation of Rs 1.21 crore this year for development work, living conditions have remained the same, if not worse, in Bharatinagar. Many residents are denied basic amenities like clean water and electricity.

While water supply is irregular, contamination of the borewell water is an issue residents have to grapple with. In January 2008, the area saw an outbreak of water-borne diseases due to contamination.

Though the BWSSB solved the problem then, cases of used water mixing with borewell water persist, due to which 25 of the 34 borewells in the area are unused now. Since tap water is available only two to three times in a week, residents have to make do with the borewell water ‘filtered’ with a piece of cloth tied around the pipe.

Garbage park More appalling is the regular dumping of garbage by the BBMP lorries in the Memorial Children’s Park in the area. Within the park compound is a nursery school managed by the BBMP, which has to bear the stench and the mosquitoes. “For the last three years, garbage is being dumped here.

The Rs 5 lakh fund allotted by the BBMP in 2007-08 for renovation of the Memorial Park has been used only for fencing and construction of a walking area,” says former councillor M A Pari.

Lavatories raise a stink While the BBMP had sanctioned Rs 17 lakh for the reconstruction of the two public lavatories, only the painting work of lavatories was taken up, allege residents. “The lavatory is rarely cleaned, but people have no other option but to use it, as many houses do not have sanitary facilities,” says Thulasi, a resident. Thulasi lives in one of the 12 single- room houses allotted by the Karnataka State Housing Board under the Ashraya Scheme in 1996.

Two partitions in the corner of the room serve as the kitchen and the toilet, which residents hardly use due to health issues.

Powerless situation The area also faces power shutdown for two-three hours everyday without any prior notification, says M A Pari. Funds for reconstructing roads have been grossly misused, he alleges.

The newly-cemented Clerkspet-B Street here was completely damaged in two months due to rains. “Rs 5 lakh was allotted from the MLA’s development fund towards the road, but quality of work was poor,” he says.

Two government schools in the area - the Government Model Tamil School and the Government English Medium High School - which are in a dilapidated condition, were closed down three months ago.

While authorities claim that the schools were closed due to lack of students, residents in the area say that it is lack of facilities that deter parents from sending children to these schools. Stray dogs, lack of adequate streetlights and irregular desiltation of manholes and open drains are other issues in Bharatinagar.

Autorickshaw drivers refuse to bite subsidy bait

Autorickshaw drivers refuse to bite subsidy bait

The government wants two-stroke autos to be phased out and replaced by four-stroke ones.
Raghavendra R
First Published : 29 Dec 2008 04:20:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 29 Dec 2008 09:36:41 AM IST

BANGALORE: Autorickshaw drivers of Bangalore do not seem to have taken kindly to the government’s initiatives to clean up the atmosphere. Out of the approximately 80,000 autos that ply on Bangalore roads, a measly six auto owners have responded positively to the Transport Department’s initiative to rein in the increasing levels of air pollution. Under its air pollution control programme for 2008-09, the Department is providing a subsidy of Rs 10,000 for each auto that is registered before April 1, 1991, to switch over from a two-stroke engine to a fourstroke one.

Same is the case when it comes to utilisation of subsidy for installing electronic digital fare meters. Under this scheme, only five autoowners or drivers have utilised the subsidy of Rs 1,000 each, given for fixing electronic digital meters in place of mechanical ones. The government has allocated Rs 37.90 lakh towards the subsidy for 3,790 autos in the 2008- 09 budget.

Transport Commissioner Bhaskar Rao informed the Express that for switching over from two-stroke to fourstroke LPG autos, the government has allocated Rs 20 lakh in this budget for 200 twostroke autos. “Two-stroke autos are not environmentfriendly as they cause considerable air pollution. Also, the LPG conversion kit, manufactured before 1991, is not safe for use in two-stroke autos.

These schemes have dual aims - to reduce air pollution and provide safety to the commuters,” he said.

The Commissioner also disclosed that through these schemes, the existing old twostroke autos would be phased out and replaced with the LPG and digital meter-fitted fourstroke ones.

When asked about these schemes evoking lukewarm response, Rao said that a proposal would be sent shortly to the government to relax the limit of the model manufacturing from the present 1991 to 1995, which he thinks will find more takers. He branded the subsidy of Rs 10,000 as ‘meagre,’ considering the fact that the total cost would come to around Rs 1,25,000.

Rao added that the current recession is also a hurdle, owing to which getting finance is a difficult task in itself.

“Increasing subsidy as well as the number of beneficiaries is the need of the hour,” he said.The Commissioner also said that the Department was seriously mulling over making LPG conversion compulsory for autos in other districts as well.

“The move is to control the enormous air pollution caused by autos. LPG kits would be made compulsory in Mysore, Hubli-Dharwad, Belgaum, Gulbarga, Mangalore, Udupi, Tumkur, Davanagere, Puttur, Shimoga and Hassan,” Rao added.

Here too, the Department has made a provision of providing Rs 2,000 as subsidy for each of the 27,067 beneficiaries towards LPG conversion.

Metro Rail & HSRL, off the track

Metro Rail & HSRL, off the track
By: Chetan R
Date: 2008-12-29


To cut costs and address immediate connectivity issues, normal train services project mooted

The proposed high speed rail link (HSRL) and Metro Rail projects connecting the city with Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) may soon be dropped.

The infrastructure department, in a bid to 'save' huge investments of Rs 3,600 crore and over Rs 6,000 crore on HSRL and Metro Rail projects respectively, has decided to start normal train services.

The new proposal, which is yet to receive a nod from the BIA, will be implemented on the existing Chickballapur track.

The project proposes to transport passengers to the international airport from the city in an hour. Currently, it takes around two hours to reach the airport from the city by road.

"We will soon start the train services to BIA," said a senior official in the infrastructure department, who didn't want to be quoted. "If things work out and BIA gives the green signal, both HSRL and Metro Rail projects will be scrapped."

Cost cutting?

The infrastructure ministry has mooted this project to provide an immediate solution to the connectivity problem. More importantly, this service would also help save Rs 9,000 crore.

"It's an immediate remedy to the concerns of accessibility to the international airport and an ideal alternative for the HSRL and the Metro, " said Prof M N Srihari, special advisor to the chief minister on infrastructure.

Besides air passengers, it will also help regular commuters.

The proposed Bangalore-BIA train service will be from Bangalore city (Majestic) and Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station to BIA Trumpet Loop. From there the passengers will be taken to BIA through a shuttle service.
Train to BIA

Initially, the service will start with four coaches having a capacity of 1,000. The train will travel from Bangalore city to BIA via Yeshwanthpur.

The service will start once the BIA fulfils the infrastructure requirements. The department has sought details on ticketing offices, shuttle services and the estimation of number of passengers travelling through the service.

However, BIA officials were not available for comments.

After signboards, it’s number plates

After signboards, it’s number plates

Bangalore: The Kannada Development Authority (KDA) had, earlier this month, issued a notice stating that from January 1, signboards of commercial establishments should be mandatorily highlighted in Kannada. Now, it’s the turn of Kannada numerals on vehicle registrion plates.
The Kannada Anushtana Mandali is celebrating Kannada Number Saptaha at Malleswaram Grounds, where a huge number of autorickshaw drivers, twowheeler and car owners are lining up to get their vehicle number plates changed to Kannada numerals. It was reported that about 850-odd vehicles changed their number plates by evening. The mela will also be organized in other parts of Bangalore. The Mandali is embossing the Kannada numerals on the plates, along with the English numerals, free of cost.
The KDA had earlier issued a directive to ensure that all government vehicles carry Kannada numerals on the number plates, along with the English numerals.
“If we don’t encourage our own script, who else will? Not only Kannada language, but Kannada numerals also should be made compulsory,’’ said R Ramamurthy, a two-wheeler owner.
“KDA should give top priority to protecting Kannada numerals just like what they did with Kannada language. Otherwise, we may initiate a protest against KDA”, R A Prasad, president, Kannada Anushtana Mandali, said.
On Monday, the Kannada number plate campaign will be held at Vijayanagar bus stand.
Rulebook says:
According to the Motor Vehicles (MV) Act, vehicles can have number plates with Kannada (or any regional language) numerals, but should mandatorily have one number plate with Hindu-Arabic (English) numerals

Underpass work delay blocks traffic, business

Underpass work delay blocks traffic, business

Kadirenahalli's traders worst hit as main road is dug up for project

Senthalir S. Bangalore

Life in Kadirenahalli has been thrown out of gear due to the slow progress in the construction of the 387.81-m Puttenahalli-Kadirenahalli underpass which began eight months ago.
Huge rocks, ditches and slush dot the area blocking traffic and business even as Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike ( BBMP) says it will take at least 18 months for the completion of the Rs 23-crore project.
The project was supposed to be completed in 10 months.
As traffic has been diverted, shopkeepers are lamenting over their losses.
"All was well for me until the underpass work started. From the time these roads were dug up, we are incurring huge losses in business. Our products made of Plaster of Paris were much in demand among customers. But as the customers began to find it difficult to pass through this stretch, their number came down drastically," Tulasi S said. She has been living in Bhavaninagar, Kadirenahalli Cross, for the past 30 years.
Naseer Khan, who works in her shop, said Tulasi used to earn at least Rs20,000 per month. But now she suffered 50 per cent loss.
Another shopkeeper, Raghavendra Reddy, is thinking of moving out. "I have had enough. I am looking for a place where I can move up fast. For the past eight months, I have incurred 70 per cent loss in business," he said.
Even students are not spared. With the diversion of traffic, they have to walk over 2km to Banashankari to board a bus to their respective colleges.
"Earlier, the bus-stop was close to our house. Now, we walk more than 2 km every day to reach the bus stand in Banashankari," said Selvi P, a resident of Bhavaninagar.
The residents face health risks too. The ditches holding stagnant water have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. "Mosquito menace has increased and we fear it is going to affect our health," Selvi said. Local residents are finding it difficult to navigate through the narrow roads with their vehicles. They complain that a portion of their homes would be demolished to give way for the underpass.
"BBMP officials have not issued any notice to us so far. But they have marked off 7m from the road saying that much area would be demolished for the underpass," said Chikkahonnaiah H, a resident, adding he might lose a major portion of his home.
At least 50 residents have filed a complaint with the corporation but there has been no response from the officials till date.Tightrope walking: Residents of Bavani Nagar cross a ditch. During night, this act could be doubly dangerous

Localised garbage plan is on hold

Localised garbage plan is on hold

BBMP fears backlash against 60-transit point plan

It may be unwise to have waste segregation units in neighbourhoods

Rohit BR. Bangalore

A long-pending cry of the Bangaloreans to have a proper garbage disposal system for their city will have to wait a little longer.
Even as the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is engaged in a legal battle with garbage contractors, its master plan to have 60 transit points to manage household waste may not take off. For, Palike commissioner Bharat Lal Meena feels that the transit points may become new points of dispute and people may resent stinking garbage facilities at their backyard.
In August this year, Palike had made a proposal to the government apparently to save on transport bills. Transit points were expected to work as segregation and composting points so that only inert effluent is transported to disposal sites located away from the city. This was meant to reduce the number of trips and hence cut the bills to contractors.
With the city generating over 3,500 tonnes of solid waste per day, its disposal has become a stupendous task as the existing capacity of land fills is insufficient to meet the requirement. Under the master plan prepared by the Infrastructure Development Corporation (Karnataka) (iDeCK), 60 transit points were identified for garbage segregation."Each point has the capacity of processing about 20 tonnes of solid waste accumulated by door-to-door collection from the surrounding areas," said an official from the BBMP, on condition of anonymity. But even the scientific land fills in Mavallipura and Mandur had to face environmental objection though they are 25-30 km away from city. "Within city limits, this can only lead to stronger protests," said Meena. Civic consultant town planning consultant and former urban planner with BBMP and BDA, AS Kodandapani said decentralised garbage processing units would go a long way in saving the money and time in the disposal mechanism.
"Right now, each truck carrying garbage to the city's outskirts covers up to 60 km making Palike to spend much on fuel and manpower" he said.
However, the garbage contractors disagree. One of the contractors, Gopinath Reddy said: "Scientific garbage management demands that the city has three transfer stations where smaller garbage trucks can be unloaded, segregated and loaded into compressors. Palike had identified three such locations but could not execute as the neighbourhoods protested. Now they want to try 60 locations."
Ganesh, another contractor, has filed a writ petition before the high court questioning BBMP's decision to float tenders for transport of garbage to these transit points. As per the existing contracts, no one else can operate in most of city areas.
WITH INPUTS FROM BASAVARAJ ITNAALmounting problem: Existing capacity of landfills is insufficient to take 3,500 tonnes of solid waste generated every day in the city

Moral police, immoral ways

Moral police, immoral ways

Vigilante action: Hoysala Sene protest outside Fuga bar on Castle street of Brigade Road on Saturday.

Kunal Chatterjee. Bangalore

The city police have denied that activists of Hoysala Sene, a Kannada organisation, vandalised a pub off Brigade Road late on Saturday night as was reported in a section of the media.
More than 200 people, mostly foreigners, were enjoying a party at Fuga in Castle Street when they were allegedly attacked by nearly 50 activists of the Hoysala Sene. However, deputy commissioner of police G Ramesh said that the Sene activists only squatted on the road and demanded the club be cleared as they alleged that a rave party was on in it.
"We checked the club and found that nothing of that sort was happening," he added.
Though a host of cases have been booked under various sections of the law no arrest has been made as yet.
The incident took place at around 10.30 pm when activists stated shouting slogans in front of the pub and alleged that the pub was allowing the use of drugs on its premises.
Activists claimed that the pub's activities were against the Karnataka's culture. They shouted slogans that the commissioner had banned discos but this pub was violating the ban.Police rushed to the spot after which the Sene crowd dispersed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

missed call for your hot cuppa

A missed call for your hot cuppa

Manjunath Tea Stall in Chikpet takes 2000 orders for tea and coffee each day. Guess how the orders are placed ...

Sameer Ranjan Bakshi
Posted On Sunday, December 28, 2008 at 01:19:21 AM
Freakin' Awesome! Freakin' Awesome! Freakin' Awesome! Freakin' Awesome! Freakin' Awesome!

Manjunath has more than 1,000 contact numbers on his cell phone. A little unusual perhaps for someone who owns a small unpretentious shop in Chikpet, but certainly nothing remarkable. But what he does with those contacts is indeed something that should figure among the 10 Most Innovative Business Models.

Manjunath at work, taking orders on his mobile
On an average, Manjunath sells about 2,000 cups of tea and coffee every day. Like in most business districts and shopping complexes, the beverages are delivered to the offices and shops, except that in his case the orders are placed in a unique way.

Anyone who wants a tea or coffee delivered to his office gives a missed call to Manjunath and soon enough, one his boys comes in with a large flask apiece of tea and coffee and a stack of styrofoam cups to pour in the required number.


Manjunath used to run an electrical shop on the third floor in DK Lane in Chikpet. To order a cup of tea, he used to send his office boy to the ground floor, and more often than not, three times before the tea arrived. One fine day, he decided to get rid of this problem by setting up his own tea shop. He then purchased four mobile phones and started asking prospective clients their phone numbers. His USP was “give a missed call and get tea or coffee at your desk”.

He found legions of takers for the idea. He stored their numbers and started his business after winding up his electrical shop. Within three months, his initiative became a huge success story and people started calling his shop Mobile Tea Shop instead of Manjunath Tea Shop. When the profits started coming in, he gave mobile phones to some of his delivery boys to speed up his service. He now employs 12 boys to prepare and serve tea and coffee. “Earlier, people used to orally place orders, sometimes even clap or whistle at the tea supplier. But with this tea ‘revolution’, everybody does it Manjunath’s way,” said Padam Jain, who owns a business close by.


In case Manjunath is running short of tea he switches off his mobile
From Juma Masjid area to Iyengar Road, he caters to most of the establishments. He has a chain of mobile phones strung around his neck. As soon as he receives a phone call, he gives directions to his delivery boys. The uniqueness here is that the cost of calling him is free. He gets a call and doesn’t pick up the phone, thus saving his customer’s money. If he is busy or is running short of tea, he switches off the phone for a while.

“They are doing wonders in the tea business. I just give a missed call and get a cup of tea at Rs 4.50. Just like every normal business, his business also shoots up on Saturdays. It’s because more customers come to buy things on Saturday and Sunday. When there are more customers, he will get more missed calls. In summer, he also supplies butter milk and lemon juice in the afternoon,” said another customer M Nirmal.

In a way, Manjunath’s business is also recession-proof. “One drinks tea irrespective of moods or of financial fluctuations,” Manjunath said. Of course, that’s irrefutable logic.

‘Citizens’ anger can push govt towards change’

‘Citizens’ anger can push govt towards change’
Jayashree Nandi | TNN

Bangalore: Ideas are fine. But what about implementing them? The government has formed many agencies to study various problems and find solutions, but whether the government actually acts on the reports filed by these agencies is difficult to determine.
Now, the Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure Development (ABIDe), a government-formed body on the lines of the Bangalore Agenda Task Force, will release a draft plan in January to tackle security issues. ABIDe has been recommending many ideas on solving civic issues. Some questions, however, remain. Will things start moving after ABIDe submits the plan? Will the government and other establishments deliver results?
Convener of ABIDe and industrialist, and also an old-time Bangalorean and Rajya Sabha MP, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, shared his view on the matter. He puts the responsibility on citizens — as long as people are angry with the government, there will be reforms. Excerpts from an interview:
Is the era of license raj and red tape over? Do you see quicker reforms now?
I’ve a different view of reforms — they’re not about allowing companies to operate in different areas, but also about how the government operates and regulates itself. Reforms are different from the ones that happened in the early nineties.
Today’s reforms are about how accountable the government is to citizens, how transparent and responsive it is. Reforms are going on, but how quick and effective they are depend on one factor — to what extent people can sustain anger against the government.
Are you optimistic about implementing ABIDe’s security plan and other recommendations on development?
I’m optimistic about everything we plan. Political leaders are interested in what Bangalore can become. I keep telling them that Bangalore is the gateway to Karnataka. The present government’s manifesto focuses on fixing the chaos in the city. The ABIDe blueprint is not only a political document; it’s a move to promote inclusive development.
What are your concerns about the plan?
There are no concerns, only learning. I discovered there are two types of people in this sector. One is more talk and no action and the other is less talk and more action. We’ll focus on the latter to gets things moving.
What keeps you positive about governance?
The good news is people are angry with the government. Protests against the government prove that people want a reform in the way the government functions. Citizens are the agents of change.

Farmers reap rich IT park harvest

Farmers reap rich IT park harvest
One To Buy A BMW, Many Settle For Land-Money Combo As Compensation For Acquired Land
Aarthi R | TNN

Bangalore: The Devanahalli IT park is raining returns even before it’s open. Farmers here are cashing in on their land and at least one will finally buy his long dreamt-of BMW car. The monetary compensation of Rs 62 lakh per acre, finally agreed upon at the recent meeting of the price fixation consultative committee on Wednesday, has brought relief to many. Though it’s lakhs less than their original bid of Rs 1.5 crore, the option is to choose either the rate offered or 9,583 sq ft of developed land for every acre acquired for the park. For many, the choice is clear.
Venkatesh, who is giving away 2 acres of land in Singahalli, plans to buy a BMW. “I come from a well-to-do family and don’t have many commitments. I have no plans to invest and want to fulfil my long-cherished dream of owning a BMW,” he told TOI.
However, not everyone is completely opting for the money. “What use is money when you don’t see a sustained benefit through it?’’ says D S Gowda, president of the Raitara Horata Samiti, who has seen many farmers fall prey to money as compensation and lose much of it, not knowing where to invest.
Having fought hard to get the option of the alternative 9,583 sq ft of developed land per acre, he intends to go for a combo of both benefits — money for 2 acres and land in return for the other two acres that he will give away for the project.
Much of the planning and relief comes after more than two years of struggle. And with other demands like employment opportunities for at least one family member and the training centre promised to be considered, the 700 families are hopeful of a better future — not just for themselves, but for their villages too that lack basic infrastructure facilities.
Padmanabha, a graduate and farmer from Arebannimangala, is the head of a sevenmember family dependent on agriculture. He intends to use the compensation money to purchase agricultural land a few kilometres away from his place. “Only money as compensation may not have much value for people like us. Many have agreed to the other options and those like employment opportunities for a family member are being considered,’’ he says.
Retired engineer Shivandamurthy who stays in Kasturinagar with his son (a mechanical engineer) is very clear. He doesn’t want to lose his 5-acre ancestral property for nothing and has already asked for developed land as compensation. “We cannot dream of buying land later,’’ he says. He has no other plans but to keep it safe for his son.
Better means of livelihood Way to foster partnership with IT in development Better infrastructure development in the areas More employment and training facilities Less migration of farmers to other states in search of opportunities
9,583 Sq ft developed land in lieu of every acre of land acquired Rs 62 lakh per acre acquired

Committee for BIAL audit

Committee for BIAL audit

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The committee is trying to establish how the projected cost of Rs 1,200 crore soared to Rs 2,700 crore towards the end of the project.
The Public Under takings Committee, which has initiated a probe into Bangalore International Airport Ltd, has decided to call for a special audit to ascertain the reasons for steep cost escalations in the international airport project.

The 21-member committee comprising MLAs and MLCs constituted under the Karnataka Legislative Assembly Secretariat will submit its report on Bengaluru International Airport to the government by February. In four discussions held by the panel so far, all its members agreed that the Bengaluru Airport is not up to the mark and does not meet the requirements of an international airport.

The committee is trying to establish how the projected cost of Rs 1,200 crore soared to Rs 2,700 crore towards the end of the project. Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar, one of the committee members, told Deccan Chronicle that BIAL chief Albert Brunner, who is set to be replaced next month, will not be relieved from his position until he produces proper accounts. “BIAL acted as the project contractor all along. No tenders were called for and work was entrusted to the consortium’s arms in Germany and Switzerland. At the end of the day we have a matchbox-like structure. The company has exploited the government. The committee has decided to entrust the special auditing on BIAL to a private firm,” Mr Shivakumar said.

“The aerobridge at this airport cannot serve more than four flights, even though BIAL had claimed that it could serve 12. As a result priority is being given only to international flights,” he added.

Mr Shivakumar also said BIAL had quoted very high rates on materials used for the project. “The pricing is three to four times higher than normal rates. The committee may ask the state to pay BIAL and obtain ownership rights to the airport if the company does not bring the airport up to international standards,” he said.

Drivers cold shoulder A/C bus stop

Drivers cold shoulder A/C bus stop

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‘ Buses never stop at shelters on Kasturba Road. Why waste so much money on constructing a new air-conditioned shelter? Deepak Bhardwaj, Student We pick people up from wherever they are standing. People should be told to wait at the proper bus shel- ters, and not at any place they please. Shantaraj, Bus driver
Both buses and passengers seem to be ignoring the newly opened airconditioned bus shelter on Kasturba Road. While buses zip pass the bus shelter, commuters seem to be waiting for them anywhere but at the stop.

Says Vishwa Das, who guards the bus shelter, “Not even one bus has picked up passengers from here. Only a couple of autos occasionally park in front of the stop.” Few commuters too find their way here.

“Since the buses never stop, there is no point in people waiting for them here,” he points out. The largely empty bus stop has not one but two guards to look after it. Vishwa Das is relieved by another guard when his shift his done. But they have been providing security to empty shelters until now.

According to Deepak Bhardwaj, an MBA aspirant, the air-conditioned bus stop is a waste of space. “I have been travelling on this route for the past five years and have never seen any bus stop at shelters here. Why waste so much money on constructing a new air-conditioned shelter?” he asks.

The buses pick up passengers from a point around 40 to 50 metres behind the bus shelter at the beginning of Kasturba Road but never from the stop itself.

People stand on the pavement near the entrance of Cubbon Park to catch the buses which slide to a halt at this point, causing traffic snarls and putting pedestrians to inconvenience. Says traffic policeman Shashi Kumar, who is posted near Hudson circle, “Pedestrians are inconvenienced by passengers running helter and skelter to catch buses which are meant to stop at the new shelter here, but never do. Unless the BMTC makes sure the buses stop at the designated spots, there could be accidents on the road.” Bus drivers blame the passengers, who they claim don’t wait at the new airconditioned bus stop.

Says a bus driver, Shantaraj, “It is not our fault if passengers stand at other spots on the road to wait for buses. They probably find these points more convenient than the bus stop. We pick them up from wherever they are standing. People should be told to wait at the proper bus shelters, and not at any place they please.” But commuters refuse to take the blame. “Passengers are not mad to wait for the buses under the scorching sun when there are two bus shelters here. It is the bus drivers who ignore these shelters,” says Anirudh, a student of National College. He explains that he did wait for buses at the old stop only to find that none of them ever stopped there.

The story is similar at bus shelters in Domlur and J P Nagar.

BMTC officials maintain that drivers have been strictly instructed to pick up passengers only from bus shelters and not from anywhere else. But the advice seems to have had little effect on the drivers who live by their own rules.

write in If you face problems with amenities in your area or have feedback you’d like to share write to onthestreet@ or call 22960557.

NICE over, state to get huge toll road network

NICE over, state to get huge toll road network

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toll body In a few days the state government will roll out a new policy that will spell out the methodol- ogy for arriving at toll rates. A separate body will also be formed which will issue licens- es to collect toll charges, regulate and monitor toll collection and charges.
If you were blown away by the toll rates announced by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE) for using its roads, get ready to brace for more such announcements in the coming days. The state government is planning 10,000 km of tolled roads across the state that will burn a hole in your pocket.

Karnataka, clearly unequal to the task of providing for the capital city’s infrastructure is giving itself the uphill task of constructing over 40,000 km of road networks in the next five to 10 years. The cashstrapped government, grappling with resource mobilisation for this development is looking at public private partnership (PPP) to meet the gap.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, principal secretary, public works department, R.B. Agwane revealed that with no choice, the government is forced to involve private infrastructure companies to build roads in the state.

“Around 40,000 km in the state are single lane roads. On an average we need around Rs 2 crore to con vert them into two-lane roads as we will have to acquire land in some cases, rebuild culverts or expand bridges. This amounts to Rs 80,000 crore which is out of the state’s reach. So we are in the process of identifying 10,000 km which will be developed with the help of private players,” he said.

Initially the PWD will take up 1,000 km.

In stages the rest of 9,000 km will be identified and global tenders will be floated in all the cases.

“We need to assess the traffic volumes on all the roads. Once we have the data we will collate it and wherever the traffic density is high, such roads will be given out on build-operatetransfer mode for a period of 30 years. The reason is only high density roads will yield good revenue for the investor,” Mr Agwane said. The toll authority to be announced this coming week will address the grievances of both commuters and private companies. Principal Secretary of Public Works Department, R. B. Agwane said that a 1998 amendment to the Highways Act allows the government to impose user fees or toll to recover money invested on roads.

“We have worked on a policy which will enable KRDCL or any entrusted private company authorized by the state government to collect the user fees. Till now the government has taken up works of several intercity roads through Karnataka Road Development Corporation (KRDCL) which was dependent on grants, aids and loans. It is not possible for the corporation anymore to go loans. So this policy will help generate funds and also lighten the burden on the exchequer. The policy is pending cabinet approval,’’ he said.

The policy outlines guidelines for deciding on the toll charges.

The toll will vary for different roads and toll rates will be decided on the length of the road, investment, traffic volumes and such other factors.

Meanwhile, the elevated road from Silk Board Junction to Electronic City which is fast nearing completion has announced toll charges for commuters of this road.

The announcement which has come from Bangalore Elevated Toll Way Limited, the consortium which is constructing the elevated road is a shocker as the rates are double compared to that of NICE roads.

While two-wheelers and cars will feel the heat as they have to fork out out Rs 10 and Rs 25 respectively, truckers and buses will be hit the most as they have to cough up Rs 50 for the 9 km premier road.

The road which was predominantly built for the workforce of Electronic City who had to face traffic snarls of upto 3 hours, mainly due to inter-state vehicles which use the same road to enter Karnataka and leave for Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The rates are designed in such a way that truckers and buses opt out of elevated road and use free road below the tolled road. The 4-lane road will be thrown open for public in April.

Thirsting in parched Banashankari

Thirsting in parched Banashankari

Residents have been waiting for Cauvery water in vain for a few years now, reports Senthalir S

Bhavani R of Kerepalya, living near Banashankari 3rd stage, walks a long distance everyday to fetch drinking water for her family. There are two borewells in her area but the water is not potable.
Though the morning trudge for water is tiring, she has been persisting with the hope that in a matter of few days the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) would ensure she gets Cauvery water at her place.
Residents in nearby Pantarapalya also face the same problem. At least 150 families in Pramod Nagar and Bagegowda Nagar layouts in Banashakari 3rd stage have paid to pay Rs 15,000 each as beneficiary capital contribution, including penalties, to the BWSSB.
They were promised that within one month of payment, water would be supplied to them.
"BWSSB laid the pipelines to supply Cauvery water and fixed meters in every house here in 2007. But till now, they haven't supplied water. We are now paying Rs 250 to water tanker operators," Rashmi D'Souza, a resident of Pramod Nagar, said.
Despite several reminders to the officials, they did nothing to solve the water crisis, she said. "We have approached BWSSB officials many a time but they do not respond to us properly. What are we supposed to do?" asked Nagaraj S of Pramod Nagar.
Many residents of Kerepalya and Muneshwara Nagar are finding it difficult to pay the beneficiary capital contribution and penalties to get the Cauvery water from Greater Water Supply.
"Since the nearby Hosakerehalli lake is contaminated, we get only dirty water from the nearby borewells. We have no alternative as we cannot pay the large amount being sought by the BWSSB," said Bhavani.
T Venkataraju, BWSSB chief engineer, said only a few people had paid the money and the board would supply water only if everyone paid the amount. "People there have not given the layout plan also," he said. "Water is a basic human right and it is the responsibility of BWSSB to provide water to the people and not fine them," said Pradeep Deepu, who is a part of campaign against water privatisation.

Bar on Brigade Road attacked

Bar on Brigade Road attacked
DH News Service, Bangalore:
Over 50 activists of the Hoysala Sene, a Kannada organisation, attacked a bar on Castle Street off Brigade Road late Saturday night.

Alleging that Fuga bar ran a discotheque and entertained dances against the norms, the activists broke furniture and glass equipment. However, no one was injured in the incident. More than 500 boys and girls in the bar rushed out before the owners downed the shutters.

As the tension mounted nearly 200 policemen, who rushed to the spot, tried to pacifying the activists stating that they would ensure that no rule is violated by the bar.

Shouting slogans the activists alleged that the discotheque was against Indian culture, and had to be closed. Although they dispersed after two hours, tension prevailed in and around the Brigade Road. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) G Ramesh visited the spot later and monitored the situation.

The trouble brewed around 10.30 pm. A reputed consumer goods company had arranged a demonstration event inside the bar. The guests included people from different parts of the country. One of the activists gained entry into the bar and alerted his associates who were waiting outside.

The activists claimed that they had videographed the activities inside the bar.

Jaadu ki jhappi on Brigade Rd

Jaadu ki jhappi on Brigade Rd
Students Take Up ‘Free Hugs’ Campaign To Spread Joy

Bangalore: There was much huggy happiness on Brigade Road, all for free, as Munnabhai MBBS gave his Jaadu ki jhappi (magic of the hug) to one and all on Saturday. There were many Munnabhais from Bangalore colleges who organised a Free Hugs campaign to tell people how a hug can transform one’s day.
The power of a hug? It can spread joy, lighten hearts, build bonds and even elicit a tear. Munna is remembered as an icon for spreading love and harmony.
“We are a group of 25 trying to spread the message of happiness among people and promote the organisation ‘Free Hugs’,” said Jason D’Souza, 20, of St Joseph’s College of Commerce. The friends walked through Brigade Road, approached strangers and asked whether they could be hugged. “We hugged many and clicked photographs of those who hugged us. While some people were hesitant, some were happy to join us. We did not force anybody.”
The group in the 18-25 age group had just one mission — reach out to strangers and brighten up their lives. Free Hugs has also travelled to Delhi and Mumbai. Its popularity is such that a music video for the promotion of the cause was composed by A R Rahman!
Tracing the hugs
Juan Mann, an Australian who had faced many hardships, returned to Sydney. Standing at the arrival terminal, watching other passengers meeting friends and family hugging and laughing together, he wanted someone out there to be waiting for him. There was no one. So he got a
cardboard and made a sign. He found the busiest pedestrian intersection in Sydney and held it overhead with the words ‘Free Hugs’ on both sides. Initially, people threw
him bizarre glances. Then, a few approached him. The first person who stopped told him how her dog had died the same morning. Another person who had lost her child hugged Mann, sharing her grief, following which both felt good. As more people approached him, Mann had one thing to say: “Many people felt all they needed was a hug.”

No Kannada in their plate

No Kannada in their plate

A circular has been sent to govt depts to ensure that vehicle licence plates are in English letters and Arabic numerals

MK Madhusoodan. Bangalore
What the Kannada Development Authority proposed, the transport department disposed. For government vehicle users, it means that the English licence plates stay put.
Kannada Development Authority chairman Mukhyamantri Chandru had issued a directive setting a January 1, 2009 deadline for all government vehicles to display Kannada number plates.
But on December 19, a circular from the principal secretary of the transport department reiterated that all government vehicles shall have their licence plates displayed in English letters and Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3 etc are Arabic numerals). "It is the responsibility of all vehicle owners to have their number plates displayed as per the rules stipulated under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules of 1989. In view of the terror threats all over the country, it has become difficult to identify the vehicles if the number plates are written in other languages," the circular said.
When Chandru's attention was drawn to this issue, he clarified that he never meant that the number plates should entirely be in Kannada. "Rules should be respected," he said.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Just too many queries, but who'll answer?

Just too many queries, but who'll answer?

BDA officials appear to be too busy to try the 'one-day' plan to clear all public queries

Bosky Khanna. Bangalore
Everyday, at least 50 people visit the Bangalore Development Authority head office to get their queries answered. But, in most cases, they return unanswered.
In order to answer all queries of Bangaloreans, the agency had decided to organise a day-long public grievance meeting every Saturday, but none has been organised till date. The idea was proposed by the BDA Commissioner Siddaiah six months ago. It was aimed at answering as many queries of people as possible once a week rather than holding a public grievance meeting every day for two hours.
It was also decided that all BDA officials should be present at the meeting to answer the questions.
Everyday, BDA officials claim to hold a two-hour meeting from 3pm to 5 pm. But most of the time, the BDA officials are busy attending other meetings or visiting construction sites. The public grievance meetings are held only once or twice a week. In most cases, the grievances are heard by the public relations officer, who assures citizens that their problems will be forwarded to the officer concerned or to the commissioner himself. For a month, BDA officials had organised grievance meetings in BDA commercial complexes like Koramangala and Indiranagar. But this too seems to have ceased.
S Rajanna, a resident, said, ``I have been trying to meet BDA officials for over a month to know the status of my site. But each time I am told the officials are busy. If a weekly grievance meeting is organised, I will be able to expose their true face.''
Renuka K, another resident, said, "I have been requesting the BDA officials to clear an encroachment and solve other local disputes at the earliest.
"All along, they have been ignoring my request. The public grievance meeting will act as a single window system for all Bangaloreans to solve their grievances.''

Commercial hub in the pit of neglect

Commercial hub in the pit of neglect

Nagardpet residents miserable as road work gets delayed

Senthalir S. Bangalore

Potholes, bumpy roads and slush confront people in one of the oldest and busiest commercial areas of Bangalore.
Traders and residents of Nagardpet are suffering a lot due to the shoddy road works being carried out by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). They complain that there is no help coming from civic agencies.
"It has been six months since BBMP had given the contract to lay a 300m road. But the contractor is doing a shoddy job. The roads should be dug up completely. Then, proper procedure has to be followed to lay the road. If the contractor is negligent, the roads will not be levelled and this will lead to more problems," said BK Goyal, secretary of Trade Associations of Central Bangalore.
Adding to the woes, there is no drinking water supply to nearby areas like Gangarpet and Kumbarpet. "The water we get is contaminated. The sewerage water gets mixed with drinking water because of broken pipelines. Even after we made several complaints, officials seem to be not at all bothered in solving our problems," said KS Sardar Ahmed, a resident of Nagardpet.
When questioned over the delay in road works, civic agencies keep passing the buck. BBMP says it is up to the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to lay sanitary pipes and the Bangalore Electricity Supply Board (BESCOM) to remove an electric pole to help the work progress.
"We had sent a notice two months back to BWSSB and BESCOM to complete their work fast. But they have not done it. If they finish their work, we will be able to work fast," a BBMP official said. A water board official said BBMP should help them in laying the pipelines.
"The water board and BESCOM officials say they have to prepare the work estimate before starting the work. But even after six months, they haven't done anything. We have been constantly asking them to speed up the work. There is no coordination among the civic agencies," Goyal said.
"This is one of the busiest commercial areas. If the infrastructure is bad, people won't come here. Instead, they will go to the malls," he said. The lack of coordination among civic agencies and the shoddy work done by the contractor are making life miserable for pedestrians and motorists in Nagaradpet.

Another feather in Lalbagh's cap

Another feather in Lalbagh's cap

Lalbagh will soon get an aviary which will be a learning ground for children and ornithologists

Bosky Khanna. Bangalore
People visiting Lalbagh will soon be able to see the birds breed, roost and nest in an environment close to their natural surroundings.
If all goes according to the plans of Lalbagh Botanical Garden and horticulture department officials, a 20-acre piece of land of the 40-acre botanical garden will be shortly converted into a natural aviary for local and migratory birds to breed and roost, without any human intervention.
"We plan to earmark 20 acres of land for the aviary similar to the Jurong Bird Park in Singapore. Initially, space will be utilised for a bird park, which will later be expanded. Plastic nets will be installed across the area for people to see the birds without disturbing them,'' director of Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Vasanth Kumar, said.
The aviary will be set up behind Kempegowda Tower. The idea is, however, in its initial stage and awaits government clearance. Pedestals are being set up, which will help birds build nests and feed. Fruit-bearing and flowering trees will be planted to support their breeding as well. Artificial waterholes will also be created.
There is need to build an aviary due to increasing urbanisation. The surroundings of Lalbagh, with many high-rise buildings, leave no room for birds. The area chosen for the aviary is a barren land which can be converted into a learning ground for students, children and ornithologists. It can also act as a recreation centre for visitors, Kumar said. The department is planning to develop it in partnership with Singapore's Jurong. The central government is also in talks with Jurong to set up a natural bird park in New Delhi.
Ornithologists welcomed the move. "It will help revive the dwindling bird population. There are no exclusive breeding and roosting parks in Bangalore and this will also act as a good learning ground," MB Krishna, an ornithologist, said.

It was the year of the Volvo Report card

It was the year of the Volvo Report card

Anil Kumar Sastry

BIAS services provided an affordable trip to the new airport

KSRTC began its services to Kasaragod on Friday

NEKRTC, NWKRTC expand their fleet

BANGALORE: If one were to name any one high-profile launch by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) this year, it would be the Bengaluru International Airport Special (BIAS) services with the cushy Volvo buses.

As for the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North West Karnataka Road Transport Corporation and North East Karnataka Road Transport Corporation, they did their value addition expanding their fleet with modern buses.

Conceived by the then Managing Director Upendra Tripathy, the BIAS services did not disappoint air passengers, and provided an affordable trip to the new airport located far away from the city. Though this service is yet to break even, it has, to some extent, managed to keep at least some airport-bound private vehicles off Bellary Road.

Also, special late evening services from High Court and introduction of Volvo services on short-distance city routes were some other initiatives of BMTC during the year. While the year was winding up, a BMTC bus driver killing the driver of a private bus under his wheels on the eve of Christmas, became a matter of shock for BMTC and people alike.
The one-rupee ride

Transport Minister R. Ashok’s scheme of Re 1. ride on BMTC’s Volvo services for four days attracted bouquets and brickbats. Aimed at introducing the posh buses to the masses, the exercise which attracted thousands of people, however, failed to convert the visitors to regular users of Volvo.

Both KSRTC and BMTC got new managing directors after A.P. Joshi and Upendra Tripathy were made Principal Secretaries – rural development and transport – respectively in mid-2008. Gaurav Gupta and Syed Zameer Pasha occupied the drivers’ seats of the respective corporations. While KSRTC commissioned a new depot in Magadi, work on inter-modal transit centres at Mysore and but station at Shimoga commenced. BMTC inducted 50 Volvo buses and deployed them on new routes.

KSRTC’s decision to take on private operators in Dakshina Kannada district by introducing Mangalore city services and services between Mangalore and Kasaragod met with stiff opposition. While the corporation began the Kasaragod service on Friday, it is going ahead with Mangalore city services by March next. This has come as a welcome respite to people who hitherto had been at the mercy of private operators. KSRTC has even decided to operate regular buses to Udupi and Manipal from Mangalore.

However, KSRTC’s plan to build satellite bus terminals at the entry points of city to decongest roads within Bangalore is yet to materialise. The progress has been very slow and satellite terminals may not materialise within a couple of years.