Thursday, February 26, 2009

Subramanya’s mantra: Better roads

Subramanya’s mantra: Better roads

Road-related infrastructure gets top priority in the civic budget — and no Bangalorean would demur on that


When S Subramanya presented the civic body’s budget for 2009-10, his focus was on decongesting the city. For the last few years, the city’s crumbling infrastructure has been a sore point with the ‘aam aadmi’ and officials alike, and the budgetary spotlight on better connectivity has come not a day too soon.
Taking a cue from chief minister B S Yeddyurappa’s frequent iterations about improving Bangalore’s infrastructure, BBMP’s budget has set aside the lion’s share of its proposed expenditure for road-related infrastructure projects — a whopping Rs 1525 crore.
Whereas ABIDE had asked BBMP to make 12 busy roads signal-free, the latter has focused on four: Hosur-Laskar road, Old Airport Road, Dr Rajkumar Road and Mehkri Circle to Benniganahalli. Subramanya said, “Flyovers or subways will be constructed at all the bottlenecks on these roads. Motorists can zoomfrom one point to another without any traffic jam.” Traffic expert M N Sreehari said, “Constructing subways is always a better option then constructing an elevated highway.”
The budget has also announced that part of the Outer Ring Road will be made signal-free. The stretch from Central Silk Board junction to Mysore Road comes under BBMP. The budget proposes to construct a grade separator at Chennamma Circle using traditional technology. It also proposes underpasses at 11 other junctions on this stretch, using segmented technology, at a cost of Rs 83 crore.
To address the problem of traffic congestion in front of the Lalbagh main gate, the budget proposes a forked steel flyover, on which work will start this financial year.
It has been a long-pending demand to construct bridges across railway lines. Residents residing in areas criss-crossed by Chennai, Mysore and Tumkur railway lines have long complained of a lack of connectivity. BBMP has proposed to construct 33 railway over/under bridges in these areas. ROADS: WHAT IS IN STORE
Magadi-Sunkadakatte Main Road Sarjapur Road Madiwala Road Roads in City Market area Rajarajeshwarinagar Main Road
Link Road between Tindlu and GKVK Hennur Ring Road to Kannur Jakkur Flying Club to Kyalasanahalli Traffic intersections at J C Road ELEVATED HIGHWAY Sirsi Circle to Kengeri
KR Circle, Hudson circle, Okalipuram, Shivananda circle, KR Puram, Vaddarapalya, Herohalli, Kengeri, Medarahalli, ISRO campus, Nelagadaranahalli, Abbai Naidu studio, TK Layout, Roopena Agrahara, Singapura, Garvebahavipalya, Banashankari III Stage, Bugle rock area, Srinivasanagara and Nagarabavi
Airforce station-Jalahalli; Coffee Day junction-Yelahanka; Koramangala-Sarjapur road; Jakkur road circle; Kempegowda circlce, Yelahanka; Reva College junction;Thanisandra road NEW GRADE SEPARATORS
Kadugondanahalli Sriramapura Nagavara Kodigehalli
Byappanahalli Papanna Park Allalasandra Shamanna Garden Narasimhaiah Compound
Connecting Tumkur Road and Kempe Gowda bus stand, it is one of the busiest roads.An elevated corridor of 3.2 km was proposed at a cost of Rs 15 crore. However, the project has been shelved. BBMP commissioner Subramanya said,“Since the work is not feasible, we are now focussing on a special plan to make it a signal-free corridor.”
Of the four proposed expressway storm water drain projects, two have been shelved as being non-feasible. Subramanya said,“The 5.1 km stretch from K H Road (Double Road) to Inner Ring Road (Koramangala) and the 4.2 km stretch from Airport Road to Bellandur tank in Challaghatta valley have been dropped. For the other two projects, a proposal has been received under the Swiss challenge method for the stretch from Old Madras Road to Airport Road in Challaghatta valley (2.7 km), while an alignment map has been prepared for the stretch from Outer Ring Road to Raja Canal in the Hebbal valley (2.7 km).
Though the future looks bleak as buoyancy in taxes has come down on account of the economic downturn, the BBMP commissioner maintained that it was a ‘temporary phenomenon’ and that Bangalore would “bounce back”. He painted an optimistic picture of the civic body’s resource mobilisation strategies:
“We plan to collect Rs 1,100 crore as property tax in 2009-10 and we are hopeful of achieving it,” Subramanya said. BBMP has already commenced collection of property tax under the Unit Area Value method of computation and has established 273 help centres to facilitate tax collection. Lakhs of properties will come under the tax net now. To ensure compliance, BBMP has taken up GIS-based mapping of properties and this process is likely to be completed by March.
The civic body plans to collect Rs 64 crore as advertisement tax this year. It will open up the new infrastructure projects; ad space will be available in more bus shelters and flyovers.
Non-tax revenues will go up to Rs 309.74 crore this year as BBMP plans to streamline the self-assessment and collection methodology for trade licences, license fees, revision in rates of rent and lease of corporation properties.
“JNNURM projects are at a crucial stage and we anticipate more than Rs 360 crore” Subramanya said.
Meanwhile, the state government had provided a special grant of Rs 300 crore in 2008-09 and has provided Rs 500 crore in 2009-10. The total estimated receipts for 2009-10 are Rs 3,959.29 crore.
BBMP expected a revenue inflow of Rs 2,842.48 crore in its last budget, but for various reasons the civic body failed to get its cash registers ringing. While several fund-raising programmes remained nonstarters as the government failed to give its green signal, others were caught in a political logjam. Bangalore Mirror takes a look at the no-shows:

• Property tax collection came a cropper as the debate between the self-assessment scheme (SAS) and the capital value system (CVS) continued till recently. “We planned to collect Rs 605 crore as property tax, but fell short of the budget target by Rs 205 crore,” said BBMP Commissioner S Subramanya.

• There was a shortfall of Rs 49 crore because of non-collection of improvement charges. BBMP could not collect improvement charges as the Karnataka High Court ruled that such charges cannot be levied without issuing a proper notification.

• In the backdrop of the economic downturn, revenue in the form of advertisement tax (inclusive of licence fee) has plummeted drastically. While BBMP expected Rs 91 crore from advertisement tax, the actual money that flowed in was just Rs 44.50 crore.

• With the Sakrama scheme, which is geared at regularising building violations, being put on the backburner, BBMP has lost close to Rs 100 crore.

• This apart, there has been a shortfall of Rs 242 crore in tax revenues.

• Non-tax revenues also decreased by Rs 233 crore as against the budget target of Rs 542 crore, thanks to the recession. BBMP GIVES ITSELF BROWNIE POINTS
What has BBMP done in the last one year? This is the question every denizen must be asking, given the fact that the civic machinery either moves at a snail’s pace or does not move at all. Wary of getting even more brickbats, BBMP chose to list out the good things it has done for the city:

• A total of 454.91 km of roads have been asphalted. (Don’t ask which roads.)

• 74.28 km of concrete roads were added. (Probably in the narrow bylanes of old Bangalore.)

• 146 high-mast lights were installed. (Oops, you missed them because of the frequent power cuts.)

• 36,233 sodium vapour lamps were added. (Yeah, they are on during the day and off at night. Example: the stretch from HAL airport to Marathalli.)

• The International Airport Road has been illuminated on par with international standards with nine highmast lights at a cost of Rs 8.50 crore. (The million dollar question: how come this road is still a killer as road accidents are increasing, especially at night?)

• Five km of roads in the core areas have been widened. (This is truly one good thing that has happened. Thanks to BBMP commissioner S Subramanya’s initiative, motorists don’t have to jostle for space.)

• Upgradation of 570 parks across the city. Two lakh saplings planted at various locations.(Hope these plants are watered regularly and the city gets the ‘Garden City’ tag back.)

• Transplantation of 300 trees. (Who is going to monitor them and how are they faring?)

• Completion of seven pedestrian subways in a record time using precast element technology. (Hope they don’t lock these subways ater 6 pm like it happens in Shivajinagar.)

• 12,000 ‘Madilu’ kits have been distributed to women through BBMPrun maternity hospitals. (Taking babycare to new heights!)

• Six new underpasses constructed with segmented box elements at BDA Junction, CBI Junction,Anandnagar, IVRI campus, Cunningham Road and Hebbal. (Residents’ envy, motorists’ pride!)

• Signal-free connectivity from the city to Bangalore International Airport. (We recently heard the traffic police telling us that more traffic signals are needed on the road!)

• Malleswaram Circle grade separator under JNNURM has been completed. (But problems pertaining to taking turns still persist.)


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