Wednesday, September 30, 2009


We love to hate them. Yet, Manjunatha, who prompty returned two laptops his passengers had accidentally left behind in his vehicle, reveals that not all auto drivers are birds of a feather

Auto drivers are a universally reviled lot. Especially so in Bangalore. And for good reason. Most of them are snarky, devious and prey on the vulnerable. Which is what makes an exception to the stereotype so edifying as it is surprising. Last week, one auto driver, Manjunatha, promptly returned two laptops costing Rs one lakh that he found on his backseat to its owners.
Two technology consultants Naveesh and Sainath along with their Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Vishnu reached Bangalore from Pune on September 23. But nothing could have prepared them for what followed. Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, Naveesh said, “Three of us hailed an auto (KA 02 B 5022) at K R Puram at 11.30 am towards Shivajinagar.
At 12.15 pm, we got down at Shivajinagar with our luggage. But, only after an hour, we realised that we had forgotten two laptops: one Toshiba and another Dell, costing Rs one lakh. Moreover, the laptops contained vital data and information. We then decided to lodge a complaint with Commercial Street Police
Just when they were about to go to the police station, Vishnu got a call on his mobile phone. “It was a strange number and the caller introduced himself as Manjunatha.
As we had not known his name, we could not recognise him. But, Manjunatha introduced himself stating that he had dropped us from K R Puram to Shivajinagar and wanted to return the laptops. He asked us to be at the place where we got down from the auto. Though, we could not believe this initially, the prompt auto driver landed at the place at 3 pm,” Naveesh said. The trio said they were really grateful to the auto driver as he had brought back the laptops which had so much valuable information in them, and that too without expecting any returns.
On the other hand, 30-year-old Manjunatha, the auto driver, who saved the day for the techies said he did not do anything great except his duty. “Last Wednesday, after dropping three techies, I ferried two women from Infantry Road to Mysore Road. That’s when I saw the laptop bag. I asked the women whether it was theirs. But, when they said no, I checked the bag and found visiting cards and then I called the techies,” he said.
Manjunatha, who has been driving an auto for the past three-and-ahalf years, said he was suitably rewarded. “When I gave them their laptops, they gave me Rs 1,000. That was very nice,” he said. But didn’t he feel, at least for a moment, like selling the laptops and pocketing the cash. Manjunatha shot back: “This is not my property. Moreover, I was sure the laptops contained important documents and gave it back.”
This is not the first time Manjunatha has displayed such honesty. “Couple of months ago, one lady had left her mobile phone behind in my auto. I remembered her place and returned it,” he revealed matter-of-factly. Time, we began to see auto drivers in a new light.

Harpoons are out to get the sharks

Harpoons are out to get the sharks
Land Grabbers Will Soon Be Booked Long-Pending Bill May Be Passed Shortly

Bangalore: Land grabbers, many of whom went scotfree all this while, may now end up behind bars for laying their hands on prime government land. The jinxed A T Ramaswamy committee report on encroachments will come to life again.
An exclusive Act to deal with land grabbing and establish a special court to prosecute violators is on the anvil. The Karnataka Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill 2007, that’s awaiting the President’s nod, is expected to get through by October.
What’s more, a task force has been set up to prevent encroachments. The body headed by retired IAS officer V Balasubramanian was approved by a government order on September 19. The entire state will fall under its jurisdiction.
To begin with, the task force will commission a survey of government lands in Karnataka, barring Bangalore. For Bangalore Urban, the data collected by the former joint legislature committee on encroachments, headed by Ramaswamy, will be used.
“We had the first meeting today (Tuesday) and I will write to all the deputy commissioners of districts to send me a report on the status of government lands. Since Bangalore data is available, action will be taken against land grabbers. With the formation of a special court to look into such cases, the punishment will be stringent,” Balasubramanian said. RECOVERY GAME BEGINS
Task force will use data collected by the A T Ramaswamy panel and bring the guilty to book People can write to them at II floor, Bangalore Urban DC’s office; 22114233/22214516/22221425 It has set a deadline of one year to complete the task It will not auction/sell government land after retrieval as real estate mafia known to buy the land
One of the landmark provisions of the Karnataka Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Bill is the setting up of a fast-track court to try cases of government land encroachment. With a deadline of six months to dispose of a case, the court will be headed by a retired HC or SC judge. All criminal and civil cases relating to government land encroachments pending in other courts will be transferred to the special court. The accused can be sent to jail for a period of three years

Nothing more than mere patchwork

Nothing more than mere patchwork

Bangalore: After its first monsoon experience, the vehicular underpass at Sanjaynagar is already bruised. The incessant rain has drained all the magic off this box.
Diversions, tests and a hectic night-long operation by the BBMP to level an uneven patch here proved futile as the stretch was again flooded by late Tuesday evening.
According to BBMP engineers at the spot, one of the precast elements supporting a concrete slab of the underpass had shrunk, leading to the slump. The shrinkage was more than three inches.
Heavy waterlogging along this uneven surface resulted in a fatal accident on Sunday. Traffic was not allowed to enter the underpass on Monday, while vehicles plying above were diverted for the repair work. Traffic flow was restored on Tuesday morning, but the afternoon rain again played spoilsport.

Only if their potential is not forgotten

Only if their potential is not forgotten
A little effort and sticking to basics of engineering can help ensure that lakes are used to prevent floods...

Bangalore: The city getting flooded after every downpour only points to the insufficient capacity of choked storm water drains, and land encroachments. “How about using the existing lakes as a flood-control measure?” suggests D N Ravi Shankar, an environmental consultant.
Instead of spending crores of rupees that are likely to go down the drain, a ‘proper engineering’ of lakes can keep floods at bay, he says. According to the basic principles of drainage engineering, one of the most significant benefits of a lake is the long-term protection against floods. They modify the natural flow of water, helping to avoid the inundation of downstream areas.
Flooding in the vicinity of places where lakes once existed — Kanteerava stadium for instance — have no solution unless we introduce high discharge low-head pumps with a collection system.
Function of lakes and their monitoring should include engineering aspects like irrigation, power generation, water supply, groundwater recharge, flood control, recreation, aesthetics.
Bangalore once had more than 1,000 lakes. Many of them were designed and used for irrigation, in addition to potable water needs. These became part of the urban environment with the city’s growth. Bangalore has now grown to an area of 800 square kilometres. ‘Irrigation lakes’ have become ‘urban lakes’. Changes in land pattern, in both watershed and drainage zones, have resulted in a change of the lake ecosystems There is something common to the flooding every year. The areas that get inundated are, more often than not, close to: An existing lake A lake that existed there A storm water drain in a low-lying area
Almost all lakes in Bangalore are polluted with untreated/partially treated waste water entering them
City gets 900 MLD of potable water from different sources; 80% of it gets gets converted to waste water before entering a treatment plant; 20% wastage is supposed to be losses in sewer joints en route the treatment plant, besides other losses like evaporation More than a lakh borewells supplement potable water. Assuming 2,000 litres per borewell, this amounts to another 200 MLD All the waste water generated finds its way into lakes. This is not true of rural lakes as they are fed only with rain water Inflow of waste water into Bangalore’s lakes on non-rainy days is greater than seepage losses and loss due to evaporation When lakes are full round the year, how can they help prevent floods? Where did we go wrong in planning?
Residential layouts are formed lower than the flooding level. An example of this is RMV Extension. The basic civil engineering concept of developing a layout above this level is forgotten. Who is to be blamed? Developers of apartments also forget this rule while fixing the plinth level. There is a need to educate engineers of the utility of checking the flood level while sanctioning plans
The entry of untreated waste water into lakes causes imbalance. There are problems with groundwater pollution, vector nuisance, odour nuisance and aesthetics, among others. Prevention of lake pollution was attempted by different civic authorities, but without a holistic approach or long-term planning
Any community develops next to a water body. Going back to the history of lakes, there existed a village next to all of them. Its size was based on its location profile, catchment, flood level and drainage zone. Rapid urbanization has changed these factors. Now, the drainage zone for irrigation is not considered
The amount of run-off that enters lakes depends on the intensity of rain and characteristics of the catchment area. In Bangalore, the catchment areas around lakes are impervious as the city is a concrete jungle. Infiltration of storm water into groundwater is also decreasing. So, even with small intensity of the rainfall, there is maximum discharge within the city

Involve citizens to keep our city green

Involve citizens to keep our city green

Is Bangalore a garden city or concrete jungle? : Bangalore has developed over the years but it has cost the city its green cover. Is it justifiable to cut trees to grow a city? Who should be blamed for the city's concrete quotient? DNA Conversations brought together the who's who of the city to refresh a debate that has become the city's hottest.

Jalaja Ramanunni

Would you still call Bangalore a garden city?
Arjun Unnikrishnan: Although Bangalore is losing its gardens, it can still be called a green city. But we are not green. There are cities with lesser greenery which make better efforts to maintain their green patches.
Oum Pradutt: Look at a Google shot of Bangalore. You'll see lots of green. It's a testimony of what Bangalore really is. Apart from being the pub capital and IT city of India, Bangalore is also the city of lakes. Although we are losing a lot of it, we still have about 150 lakes left. If you visit other countries, you'll see towers and buildings all around and no trees anywhere. The beautiful thing about Bangalore is that despite all the encroachments and concrete, we have massive lung spaces in the centre of the city. The military base, Cubbon Park, Bangalore Palace, Lalbagh and Race Course are situated right in the heart of the city and filled with greenery. Moreover, there are parks in every nook and corner.
Subhashini Vasanth: I don't recognise Bangalore as the city I grew up in, anymore. I've lived in the same house for 35 years and the topography has vastly changed. Independent houses, which once filled the streets with its gardens, have been converted into multi-storeyed apartments. There are many more people living in the same space and there's much more traffic, but the size of the lanes is still the same. This is happening in every part of Bangalore. The city is growing but it is unable to support the growth efficiently. So it's much more congested.
Dr DK Sudeendra: The concrete jungle has already been created. We have to live with it. Buildings are constructed in areas without even considering the size of the roads. The number of vehicles on these roads will certainly increase. But there is a silver lining. Some of the parks have been improved by the corporation. Within every kilometre, there's a park, big or small, for citizens.
Sudesh Mahan : Bangalore still is green enough. Most metros—as we have seen in India—get destroyed over a period of time and we can see Bangalore following suit. We are on our way there.
Dinesh Kumar: Bangalore has been tampered with but it's still beautiful. Every time I visit other cities in India such as Chennai, Mumbai or Delhi, I realise how comfortable we are here because of the greenery and good weather. We don't have the perfect balance but it is definitely much better than what's been done to the other metros in the country.

What are the reasons for the green deficit in the city?
Subhashini Vasanth: Instead of spreading out evenly, the city is getting cluttered every year. It is spreading fast in such a way that, for instance, there's an 8th Phase in JP Nagar. There is no urban plan for the city for next 10 years. When the civic authorities and builders realise the need for yet another layout, it is built even if it means filling up a lake or levelling a farmland. The long-term consequences of these steps are not being considered at all.
Dr DK Sudeendra: The density of vehicles on the road is exploding and they pollute the environment. We're not interested in improving the quality of our lives. There has been no planning. How do we move in and out of our homes? There is a huge apartment complex being built in Malleshwaram. It will have a mall, theatre and shops but only a double lane road that connects to it, like it used to before the building came up. There will be thousands of vehicles moving through it but the roads have not been widened.
Ravishankar Rao: We haven't had anyone to provide a direction to development. Or make a difference. Surat was a hell to live in a few years back. An IAS officer turned the place around. He made a difference. We need to have vertical movement as the city will expand. The city will keep expanding horizontally and vertically in a few years as there's no land available here.

Is a green Bangalore finally making a tradeoff with concrete bangalore?
Dinesh Kumar: Urbanisation is here to stay and can't be avoided. It can happen in a disciplined or indisciplined manner and Bangalore has chosen the latter. I believe that we can be urban and eco-friendly in the way we develop our city. There would not be a Hyde Park if eco-friendliness and urbanisation are separate.
Oum Pradutt: I've been born and brought up here and have seen the city change. As a growing city, urbanisation is something we'll have to face. We'll have to put up with all the concrete. The city is spreading out and growing horizontally as it's moving towards Mysore, Devanahalli, Electronic City and Old Madras Road. The harm being done is not as much as it is in other cities.
Subhashini Vasanth: What we live in now is the consequence of so much urbanisation and the IT boom. We should try to contain our development and spread out more evenly without losing out on our greenery. We have to strike a balance between how much concrete and green we can have. We try to save money for our children's future but 20 years later, they might not even have enough oxygen to breathe. We should take a step back and think of how to contain the growth without disturbing our environment.
Ravishankar Rao: Bangalore attracts people from other cities and it has to accommodate them. People bring in business and this, in turn, helps us to have a better quality of life. Urbanisation can't be blamed as it has many benefits.

Who should be held responsible for the green crimes in the city?
Dr DK Sudeendra: Builders are highly responsible for the compounds they are building in. The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has not been able to cope with the area they are handling now. The city is expanding and the BBMP is helpless. They should at least look after the area allotted to them before they take up more responsibility. We should also try to involve everyone rather than blame sections of the society.
Arjun Unnikrishnan: It's wrong to look at builders as villains. We all build homes to live in. Houses and buildings can be planned keeping nature in mind. Most cities in India have gone beyond repair but it is not too late to start looking into this issue in Bangalore. The government needs to work with developers and planners in making blueprints. Townships are designed well but money goes to wrong places and parks and green patches disappear overnight with buildings coming up in their places.
Oum Pradutt: The policy makers are doing a good job but don't enforce it well. Maintaining cleanliness and greenery is the responsibility of the government as well as the citizens, especially when it comes to dumping trash. The government provides a door-to-door service to pick up trash and even to recycle plastic and paper. Sometimes, it is the citizens who abuse the city. They should be educated by the media about steps they should take to keep surroundings clean. Citizens should get involved.
Ravishankar Rao: There are laws that say all projects beyond a certain size should have certain amenities like water treatment, rain water harvesting, solar water heating, landscaping, children's play area and parking. Not more than 50% of the space can be used for the building to be built on. We have to get 25 to 30 clearances before we start constructing a building. It may take up to 14 months to obtain the clearances. There is nobody monitoring lawmakers to enforce these laws. Money changes hands, everyone is getting greedy and corruption is worse in the private sector than in the government.
Sudesh Mahan: There's a lot of money in land and instead of making gardens, people want to make money out of it by creating buildings. According to them, the present is important. They don't bother about the future. It's a psychological thing. We allow the eco-system to be destroyed and end up blaming builders and the government. It is the mentality of the people that should be changed before they point fingers at others.

Should trees be cut for
maintaining roads?
Dr DK Sudeendra: To build the Metro, trees have to be cut. It is impossible to build a Metro around the trees. But it doesn't mean trees can't be planted anywhere else. There are many vacant areas with lots of spaces for greenery. Saplings can easily be planted there. Instead of looking at how the situation can be improved, we keep harping on the trees being cut and the harm it creates.
Arjun Unnikrishnan: Our roads are in a mess and I agree that trees have to be cut if they're blocking roads or disrupting traffic. But there's no research going into what kind of trees are being cut or planted. Some of the trees growing on the footpath give a good cover, are linear, thin and tall, and have roots that go down instead of spreading out. Infrastructure costs are higher when roots are spread out while laying out pipes and repairing roads.

Do citizens make strong
pressure groups?
Subhashini Vasanth: All of us have to take the responsibility for our respective areas. We should be much more involved in our civic responsibilities and really shout and say no, and refuse to let parks be replaced by buildings. At the Bangalore International Arts Festival, winners and guests were given saplings instead of bouquets. This is a good way of encouraging people to plant more trees. There are some young professionals who volunteer to help you out with gardening. They encourage you to have a small patch of green. Each of us can do a lot on our own as it makes a big difference to the city. We can't do much about what's already gone but we can take preventive measures for the future.
Oum Pradutt: When the municipal corporation said they couldn't handle the cleanliness of so many areas in Chennai, citizens from each area formed groups and cleaned up their localities. We must always replicate these plans that have worked in other places. People do feel responsible for the city and they will work towards its maintenance if you ask them to. There is a mass mentality that all of us possess traditionally. If you inspire citizens in the right direction, I'm sure they would love to be part of the green movement. Divide the city in a modular fashion and each neighbourhood will become a planner for their area. Every neighbourhood should take an initiative.

How do we save the existing greenery in the city?
Subhashini Vasanth: My 75-year-old dad started a movement of garbage disposal. We give plastic, paper and glass to recycling organisations and use the bio-degradable waste for our garden. We don't know whether all the garbage collected just gets dumped far away from the city and is left to decompose. My father has been encouraging people in the community to practise this method of disposing waste. All that's required is to take small steps like this in your daily lives. Carry a bin in the car and try maintaining a garden in your house. Teach your kids the importance of conserving the environment.
Dr DK Sudeendra: There are many changes we can make in our daily lives from which a lot of people will benefit. Plant at least one tree as it is known to absorb one ton of carbon dioxide in its lifetime. Walk whenever possible and avoid the use of transport. Switch to reusable shopping bags.
Moderated by
Usha Radha Krishna of Sampurnah
Coordinated by Jalaja Ramanunni

Bangaloreans beware! more deluge forecast

Bangaloreans beware! more deluge forecast

Bosky Khanna. Bangalore

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued warning of heavy to very heavy rainfall over Karnataka in the next 48 hours. "There is a low pressure area over the west central Bay of Bengal, off coastal Andhra Pradesh, and an associated upper air cyclonic circulation extending up to 7.6 km above sea level tilting south westwards towards Karnataka. Due to this, coastal Karnataka will have thundershowers, while heavy showers will be experienced in south and north interior Karnataka, including Bangalore," an official said.
The official added that a 48-hour warning was issued on Monday and are optimistic that the state government will act quick to avoid untoward accidents.
For Bangalore, IMD forecasts cloudy weather coupled with rainfall and strong winds. Due to this change in weather, the maximum temperature will dip by 2-3 degree Celsius. The city recorded a maximum of 26.1°C and a minimum of 20.9Celsius, while the airport recorded a maximum of 26.4°C and a minimum of 19.6°C on Tuesday, with rainfall up to 8 mm in the city and 4.7 mm at the airport up to 8.30 pm.
IMD officials added that the rainfall was likely to intensify and will continue till October first week. Following this two tree fall cases were reported at Sadashivanagar and near Madiwala police station.

Potholes and traffic jams

Potholes and traffic jams

M.T. Shivakumar and Deepika Arwind
BANGALORE: Often road maintenance and safe traffic go hand-in-hand. Ask any regular on Mysore Road and they will tell you this arterial road is a crucial example of what not to do to a road. This road, intended to ensure an easy and safe commute for citizens, is now an ordeal for users, its condition worsening with the incessant rain.

Just between the Sirsi Circle flyover and the Kimco Junction, you can count over 260 potholes. For a road that hosts about six lakh — and growing — vehicles every day, potholes are a serious impediment to safety.

“At peak hours, negotiating the road is impossible,” says Suresh D’Costa, who is a daily commuter. “If there is rain, then one can be sure to be stuck in traffic for a minimum of one hour.”

Traffic police, however, have their own take on the situation. “Haphazardly installed road humps have been removed, signboards have been installed, zebra crossings, blinkers and other indication marks have been provided across the road. Road dividers and reflectors have been put up to ease things,” says a police official from the Chamarajpet traffic police station.

So what? argue road users. All this has reduced neither the traffic problems nor accidents.

Tumkur Road
Similarly on Tumkur Road, there has been an onslaught of serious traffic-related problems for over two years now.

Several stretches of the road have deteriorated drastically, especially during the rain.

Some of the most frequent and problematic gridlocks on this road occur on the stretch between Yeshwantpur and the Parle factory, in and around the Jalahalli Cross, Jindal factory, Madanayakanahalli, Kirloskar Hospital, near the Himalaya Drug Company, near Makali bus stop, and Kunigal Road Junction.

Old Madras Road
On roads such as Old Madras Road, the increasing traffic and deteriorating road maintenance have led to dire situations day after day especially through the rainy month of September. Between the peak hours of 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., the road continuously hosts traffic jams.

A city police official says that for the past two years no measures have been taken to improve the road.

Moving towards Ulsoor, traffic problems have soared to an all-time high. In and around the Namma Metro barricades, the conditions of the road are pitiable with large craters, and unexpected mud heaps.

The torturous road to frustration

The torturous road to frustration

Anil Kumar Sastry
The slow pace of projects cost road users time, money and livelihoods

BANGALORE: That our city has some of the worst roads amongst the country’s metros is a given fact. And for some years now, Bangaloreans have been suffering the birth pangs of the city’s as yet biggest infrastructure projects, Namma Metro, the elevated expressway on Hosur Road and the elevated road on Tumkur Road.

While the Namma Metro, being executed by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd., (BMRCL) at a revised cost of over Rs. 6,000 crore promises to alleviate city commuting woes, Bangaloreans can count themselves blessed if indeed the project gets completed by 2012 as promised given the slow pace of work. The delay has seriously impacted not only our roads and traffic movement but also lives and livelihoods.

At a snail’s pace
If one wants to see the impact of mega projects on the citizenry, an excursion to the Chinmaya Mission Hospital (CMH) Road in Indiranagar is useful. Though all legal hurdles had been cleared, Namma Metro work moves at a snail’s pace, even scores of businessmen are faced with ruin, their livelihoods all but destroyed. The road, which has remained almost non-motorable for over two years, is excavated and barricaded, enough to daunt the most resolute shopper.

Close by, the Old Madras Road between its junction with CMH Road and the Vivekananda Ashram, is crumbling not only near the Namma Metro works but also well beyond, slowing down traffic. “Earlier I used to take only 20 minutes to reach my workplace,” says Muralidhar K. “Now it often takes me an hour, half of which is spent negotiating Old Madras Road.” Curiously, on Mahatma Gandhi Road, which has a high profile, BMRCL authorities appear to have ensured minimum damage on the road surface.

Traffic nightmare
If these are the Namma Metro’s impact on Reach I of Phase I, the stretch of the two-lane Chord Road between Magadi Road Toll Gate and Attiguppe Circle has become a traffic nightmare though the road surface appears to have suffered minimum damage.

Not so the case of the Krishna Rajendra Road between Prof. Shivashankar Circle and National College Circle, Vani Vilas Road between National College Circle and Lal Bagh West Gate and Rashtreeya Vidyalaya Road between Lal Bagh West Gate and Nanda Theatre, all of which are in bad shape. These roads were in decent shape before Namma Metro work started.

On the other hand, Namma Metro’s work on Chord Road and West of Chord Road has been throwing traffic out of gear as the road’s width has been halved.

The stretch of Tumkur Road near Yeshwanthpur Railway Station is now a bottleneck and vehicles entering the city take at least 30 minutes to get past it.

The traffic chaos on Hosur Road may ease as the NHAI’s elevated expressway project is nearing completion. But the bedlam on the busy Tumkur Road show no signs of abating as the NHAI appears in no mood to speed up the work on road widening and getting on with the elevated road.

Traffic bottlenecks continue to inconvenience commuters in J.P. Nagar and Kadirenahalli on the Outer Ring Road owing to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s inordinate delay in completing the grade separator works and the Bangalore Development Authority’s dragging its feet on the flyover for the outer ring road at the Magadi Road-Kottigepalya Junction.

Traffic nightmares have just begun for those using the ORR between Silk Board Junction and Hebbal as the BDA has just begun work on several grade separators/ flyovers in this stretch.

Sewage welcomes customers here

Sewage welcomes customers here
S Lalitha , Sep 29, Bangalore:

A ridiculous sight greets visitors to the garment and jewellery shops lining the Jumma Masjid Road in Shivaji Nagar. Mammoth slabs, large bricks and iron stools with grills line the entrance to most businesses here.

These are absolutely vital, for without them any customer would have to wade through knee-length stagnant sewage and rainwater to shop.
Leaking sewage pipes left unattended, gaping potholes and overflowing drains have ensured that half the Jumma Masjid Road (formerly OPH Road) is occupied by water. It is only along the other half that vehicles and shoppers who dare to come here shopping jostle for space.

“You may find this hard to believe. But a few of my customers keep calling us to find out if the sewage water in front of the shop has been cleared,” said S Mohanlal Bohra, Proprietor, Prakash Jewellers. “Their health concerns are totally justified when you realise that just last week two jewellers fell sick and doctors have advised them to keep away from the foul stench outside their shops. Bohra, also the head of the Jewellers Association of his locality, says members were constantly complaining about the negative impact the sewage water caused to their sales.

He also brandishes a letter signed by BWSSB officials dated June 17, which assured that the problem would be set right in a fortnight. “This followed a protest by 60 shopkeepers after downing shutters a day earlier. But our condition remains the same three months later,” Bohra laments.

Hitesh of Bohra Jewellers regrets that he is short of a staff member due to this issue. “My watchman is now bedridden as he fell sick due to constant exposure to this stench,” he says.

The owner of a nearby shop was smarter. With the aid of a broom, his staffer was being directed to push away water outside their shops to the neighbouring places.
Around 50 pipes, each measuring six feet in height have been laid down horizontally along the road by BWSSB. “They have been done just today with the assurance that they would replace the leaking pipes. But God only knows when they would actually do the work,” said another shop owner.

Further down the road, at the junction of this street with the Dharmaraja Koil Street, a hawker who has been around the same spot for 25 years, Khader Bhai, paid Rs 200 to a person on Tuesday to clear the choked water in front of his shop. “We have tried calling up the BBMP and BWSSB but it served no purpose. So, I decided to clear it on my own,” he adds. he adds. Syed Zafer, who runs `Goodluck Sweets’ wonders how anyone would feel like buying delicacies in such surroundings. A top BWSSB official said the department was taking steps to replace the existing sewage pipelines with ones of bigger diameter. “Those of nine inches dia were now being replaced by 12 inches dia. When this is done, the problem can be rectified,” he added. However, he was vague about the completion time.

Underpass shrinkage: BBMP rubbishes report

Underpass shrinkage: BBMP rubbishes report
Bangalore,Sep 29, dhns:

It is blame game time, once again. The BBMP on Tuesday contradicted the City traffic police version that a pillion rider had died due to the shrinkage of the Sanjaynagar Underpass in Bangalore.

“It is impossible that the underpass can shrink. The BBMP underpasses across the city have not moved a single millimetre from its original plan,” said BBMP Chief Engineer (Major Roads) Chikarayappa.

On Tuesday, reports suggested that a couple returning home on a two-wheeler from their native place lost balance due to the uneven underpass and hit the retaining wall. “The underpass had shrunk from above causing a pothole. The pre-cast element had been displaced. While the bottom was perfect, the cement and the jelly holding the structure above had dispersed and caused the problem,” recalled Assistant Commissioner of Police Traffic (North) S N Gangadhar.

While the police maintained that the accident was due to the pothole “manufactured” due to the BBMP negligence, the Palike Chief Engineer said that the work on the underpass was being carried out for technical reasons.
“During construction, we had left a cushion of two and half inch for the underpass to settle. Because of the finishing that was to be done and for the construction of an approach slab at the entry and exit points of the under pass, we had dug up the road and worked on it,” informed Chikarayappa.

Traffic returned to normal on Tuesday along the Bellary Road, as the Palike finished its work working through the night. “On our insistence, the works were taken up immediately and finished by the BBMP as they warded off even the rains at night. The traffic was diverted on Monday but we have allowed vehicular movement today,” informed Gangadhar.

While admitting that the underpasses are a bit narrow, the BBMP had earlier this year decided to increase the width of the underpasses from six meters to seven and half meters for future constructions.

Underground tunnel work: BMRCL seeks expert advice

Underground tunnel work: BMRCL seeks expert advice
S Praveen Dhaneshkar, Sep 29, Bangalore:

While the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL), that has begun preliminary work pertaining to the underground stretch could actually commence excavation at the Dr B R Ambedkar Veedhi only next year, authorities at ‘Namma Metro’ have approached the Centre for infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) for expert advice on geo-technical characterisation of the ground rock below the City.

According to Prof T G Sitharam, chairman of CiSTUP, three Ph D students from the IISc have been deputed to BMRCL to examine the profile of the underground stretch from Swastik to K R Road and Cricket Stadium to Magadi Road.
They will interact with chief engineers of the project and share expert advice on underground tunnelling.

“The BMRCL first evinced interest in the expertise of CiSTUP based on our ‘Report on Seismic Zonation of Bangalore Urban Centre’ that examined the geo-technical and geo-physical characterisation of the City, CiSTUP will offer consultancy on the stability of the underground section to BMRCL” said Prof Sitharam.

The report prepared by IISc for the Seismology Division in the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences does an in-depth study of seismic zones using geo-technical and geo-physical technique. It will be released soon in the national capital shortly.
This is the second time the IISc is being involved in the Bangalore Metro project.
Earlier this year, a report was prepared on ‘Geo Hydrological Studies along the Metro Rail alignment in Bangalore’ by the Department of Civil Engineering in the premier research institute.

Meanwhile, BMRCL that has completed technical and financial evaluation of bidders to the underground section is expected to announce award of tender contract in the second week of October.

At least 300 trees around Vidhana Soudha can be saved’

At least 300 trees around Vidhana Soudha can be saved’
Metro station beneath Race Course land ideal: Reddy
Bangalore, Sep 29, DH News Service:

Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation can avoid felling of at least 300 trees around Vidhana Soudha by avoiding construction of an underground metro station near High Court.

Once the Bangalore Turf Club moves out, the Race Course land could be used for an underground station for the Bangalore Metro.
Advocating this to save heritage buildings and preserve green cover, is Dr Yellappa Reddy, who last week resigned as Chairman of the Environment Impact Assessment and Monitoring Committee (EIAMC) constituted by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL).

He resigned on the grounds that BMRCL is not heeding to the suggestions given by the Committee.

Asked what exactly was the suggestion by the Committee which was not conceded by the BMRCL, Reddy said, “a station will be constructed near Jnana Jyothi auditorium in the Central College premises, another near the cricket stadium near Cubbon Park. Vidhana Soudha and High Court are just about 600 mts away from these stations. Then, can we not avoid a station near the secretariat?”
Reddy wants a portion of Race Course land for an underground metro rail station instead of that planned along Vidhana Soudha and High Court.

“Why should they cut hundreds of trees for a metro station. The race course is not too far from Vidhana Soudha, High Court and even Central College. They can construct a station beneath the club land. All it needs is just 200 sq feet of land. We can save the traffic problem and money along with our heritage buildings,” he explained.
Reddy said the committee which was constituted when Madhu was heading BMRCL had not convened a single meeting in the last two years.

He said in the recent past about 700 trees have already been cut in the vicinity of Vidhana Soudha. Maximum efforts should be made to save each and every tree to ensure that the area, which has three heritage buildings, do not reduce into a desert.
He said that the race course is a huge grass patch with no significant tree cover and felling of trees can be totally avoided, if the metro rail alignment shifts to the race course.
“ We can develop lawns over it and beautify it by landscaping it later on. It works out very cheap compared to the existing alignment the BMRCL has taken up now,” he said.

Not too late
Isn’t it too late to change the blue print of the metro phase I? For this Reddy said, “We know the importance of the metro project. The authorities want to fell trees even for movement of vehicles to the construction sites. We suggested them to go in for prefabricated moulds. Even that was not considered. Can we allow trees, which are 150 years old, to be uprooted to help some contractors? In all, 1,900 trees will have to be cut for implementing the metro work.”

Asked whether his resignation has been accepted by the BMRCL, he said he was unaware as there has been no communication from the BMRCL. Speaking on the circumstances which led to his resignation, he said, “If there was any trees to be cut, they wanted the committee. But they never called us for planning, never took us for any inspection of the spot, “ he said.

He said that the station can be connected with a skywalk or some other tunnel to Vidhana Soudha premises so that it can be a hassle-free walk.

Wrong calculations
Criticising BMRCL that it will ferry about four lakh passengers once the under ground station comes up at Vidhana Soudha, he said that the company has got the calculations wrong and should not be secretive about the work taken up by them.
When contacted, Dr Parameshwar said the Committee was not consulted to discuss technical aspects for the last two years. “There was no point in continuing the panel in such situation,” he added.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


TOI profiles some areas of Bangalore which face the brunt of rain havoc year after year
— Aparajitha Ray and Garima Prasher

SHIVAJINAGAR BEEF MARKET Slushy lanes, rotten vegetables
and meat pieces, badly potholed
roads and people coping with the same problems. Residents of the Beef Market area in Shivajinagar have learned to cope with the rain damage, much of it due to the huge storm water drain that carries water from Shivajinagar, Vasanthnagar and areas behind the market. When it rains heavily in any of these areas, the water overflows from this drain onto the roads.
Shahan, who stays behind the market, said: “The drain has been under construction for a long time. Water rises to almost 3 feet in our houses every time it rains heavily.”
With no proper outlet, polluted water remains stagnant for hours. Vegetables discarded on the road mix with it and flow into houses. “Our children fall sick all the time because of the flies and mosquitoes,” he added. They have completely given up on the BBMP as its officials rarely come here to inspect the damage.
CHICKPET An old area which struggles with
the same old issues, leaving residents extremely frustrated. The streets of Akkipet, Sultanpet and Balepet are waterlogged for over four hours when it rains.
“First, the area is at a gradient. Second, drains overflow onto the roads. Till the water clears out, the roads stink. We cannot move on the road. Worse, when big vehicles pass by, the water splashes into our houses” complained Chetan Kumar, a resident of Akkipet.
Chickpet is one of the oldest and most neglected areas. It’s home to hundreds of shopowners and many residents. It’s worse when there’s overnight rain — the water level rises to 4 feet or more and parked vehicles start floating.
P Pandey stays in Balepet and has a shop in Akkipet. “Nobody listens to us. Only one or two BBMP drain cleaners move a stone here and there to let the water flow out. We want concrete plans worked out now.”
CAMBRIDGE LAYOUT Dr Ajith Benedict Royan has
seen the mess for years. A resident of 1st Cross here, he says the drain is uncovered and water overflows when it rains. Traffic on this stretch is blocked for several hours. “Though I’ve remodelled my house to block water from getting in, we’ve been unable to fix the problem,” he explained.
He’s not the only one; residents of this area are disgusted. All their complaints have fallen on deaf ears for years. When they complained to the BBMP this time, some officials even suggested they relocate elsewhere till the monsoon ends!
SAHAKARNAGAR Resident welfare associations
here decided to tackle the problem themselves. Usually, the marketplace gets flooded when it rains but there’s waterlogging in surrounding areas too. M S Srinivas said: “BBMP officials come when we complain but do nothing and vanish. This year, we had to protect our houses by stacking sandbags.” A drain by the national highway was built by the BBMP and that’s causing problems. “Its capacity is not much and when it rains, it overflows,” he added.
WILSON GARDEN Heavy rain last Wednesday left
5th Cross residents fuming. An uprooted tree is still lying there, blocking smooth flow of traffic. People are waiting for officials to visit the place and close the drains after cleaning them.
Hemant Kumar, a resident for the past 25 years, is upset. Water entered his house at least thrice last week. “We cannot sleep when our houses are flooded. We’re busy removing water in the morning and cannot even go to work. The street lights don’t work and we have to walk through hip-deep water on some stretches,’’ he said.
Jyoti Bajaj, who’s been living in an apartment for the past two years, said: “No one told me about the problem when I rented this flat. We pay Rs 12,000 every month and at times there’s filthy water up to our knees inside our house.’’
Residents aren’t hopeful about BBMP officials coming to their rescue. “When we complain, they come, clean the drain and leave. But the situation remains the same after twothree downpours,’’ they say.
K H ROAD The stretch from BTS Junction
to K H Junction is choked with
traffic when it rains. The big storm water drain opposite Shanthinagar bus stand floods the whole area, causing the jam.
Last week, chief minister Yeddyurappa visited the place and promised remedial measures. “The drain is quite old and inadequate for the rain water,’’ said N R Sridhar, a shop owner here. Residents also said the place is visited by a number of officials and MLAs, but there’s no concrete action.
PUTTENAHALLI This low-lying area is one of the
first to get waterlogged. “The drains are open and cannot handle the amount of water when it rains. Moreover, water enters our houses,” said a resident of Astalakshmi Layout. The bridge on 1st Main collapsed around four months ago. But, repair work is yet to begin.
Enough is enough, feel citizens. What do some resident welfare associations say?
Last year at a big public meeting we vented our anger against the authorities and were promised action in six months. This year again, we have been given the same promise. We keep our fingers crossed. Despite the repeated emphasis on re-modelling of storm water drains, the huge drain that runs right across our area is not even maintained. The retention wall is very low and the drain is contaminated with sewage and hardly ever cleaned. What’s the change made in a year? The drain work that was then under the BBMP has now been entrusted to the BDA. Isn’t it time we had a permanent body to resolve these issues? — M Chandra Reddy | PRESIDENT, HAL II STAGE INDIRANAGAR RWA
It’s a perenial problem. But, we can’t blame civic authorities completely. How can you expect officials to deliver when the extent of corruption has gone beyond 100%? We could do something by starting a simple monitoring of works in our area. Why is it that we take all pains to get problems in our house sorted out but throw our hands up when it comes to checking progress of work in our lane? Much of it calls for a change in attitude. Very often, we only react as pressure cookers. Once we join hands in vigilance, it should be easy to get in accountability from civic bodies. — C M Subbaiah | PRESIDENT, FEDERATION OF SARVAGNANAGAR
We are sick of complaining. RMV II Stage is perennially affected. Everyone has visited us — right from minister Katta Subramanya Naidu to the local engineers. We have a file of all those letters of promises. Yet we remain helpless when it rains. Cars were under water this time. They started on a major drain work and then stopped it midway. Who’s to complete it and when? They ask for people’s participation. Why don’t they act when we bring these issues to their notice? — V Satyamurthy | SANJAYNAGAR RESIDENT WELFARE ASSOCIATION

Conserve lakes, prevent flooding, say IISc experts

Conserve lakes, prevent flooding, say IISc experts
Bangalore, Sep 28, DH News Service:

To prevent flooding and waterlogging in the City, experts at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have suggested several measures like delineating the flood plains and integration of activities to conserve the lakes.

Just as the City is recovering from the shock of floods due to heavy rainfall earlier this week, the ‘Brainstorming session on conservation of lakes’, has come out with immediate recommendations to prevent the flooding.

Dr T V Ramachandra, Convenor, Urban Ecology, Environment and Policy Research Group Centre for infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP), IISc, said, “Flood plains of the lakes should be delineated, the 200m around the lake must be declared a buffer zone and there should be no activities around this.”

The other recommendations include immediate demarcation of the boundary of the lakes and clearing the water bodies of exotic plant species and fish to protect the indigenous aquatic life. “These exotic species threaten the local species by bringing them on the brink of extinction,” he said. The session, which witnessed several experts presenting their findings on lake conservation, suggested keeping the water bodies clear of sewage water, solid waste and other matter.

A N Yellappa Reddy, former forest officer and noted environmentalist spoke of the technology available to prevent pollution of water, and suggested that all major apartments and industries compulsorily opt for treatment plant and usage of recycled water.

Garbage brings curtain down on Dasara festivities

Garbage brings curtain down on Dasara festivities
Sandeep Moudgal, Sep 28, Bangalore:

Heavy traffic in City on a normal day was replaced by mounds of garbage littering roads, lanes and bylanes. The downside of the festivities clearly jolted one’s aesthetic sense by Monday evening.

Piles of waste generated from the decorative and traditional items used on the last day of Dasara were strewn all over. Flowers and skins of vegetables were in abundance.
So were ash gourds sprinkled with vermillion in front of houses all over the City.
The BBMP was clearing the waste using trucks at some places but waste in most locations remained unattended to.

Double the amount
“We have to deal with double the amount of garbage that has piled up due to the festivities. Accordingly, the Zonal engineers and garbage contractors have been instructed to put in extra time and manpower to clear it,” informed a Palike official.
At a meeting held two days ago, the BBMP officials conceded that the Palike needed atleast one extra day after the end of any festival for the contractors to collect the heavy garbage that would have piled up.

“More than the manpower, we require more trips to be made by the garbage contractors to collect the waste and bring them to the collection points. This would mean, the trucks making two trips on a normal day, would make two extra trips tomorrow,” informed the official. Garbage piles were spotted for the last two days in Indiranagar, Ulsoor, L B Shastri Nagar and HAL area and also in other parts of the City.

Problem intensifies
While most parts of the City had to deal with extra garbage-piling in front of their homes over the last couple of days, residents in some parts have been facing a perennial garbage problem over the last few months.

“The BBMP in Sanjaynagar removed the dustbins along the main road and assured residents that there will be a door-to-door collection of the waste. But nothing materialised. As a result people have been throwing waste on the streets,” informed Sanjaynagar Resident Welfare Association, president, V Sathyamurthy.

Two new layouts embroiled in disputes

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Two new layouts embroiled in disputes
By Sandeep Moudgal

The layouts proposed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) around the City has generated tremendous interest among the public. The objections to the proposal too are pretty high.

With the final notification for the Kempegowda Layout all set to be out within the next one month and four more layouts in the pipeline, the sites up for grabs might be worth every rupee invested. But the ultimate deal is likely to be a hard bargain.
Only 15 per cent of the proposed layouts will be available for the layman. According to a State government notification, as much as 45 per cent of the land in the layouts will be earmarked for basic amenities, green cover and a few initiatives to improve the environment.

Of the remaining 55 percent, 40 percent of the land has been allocated to localities, who have parted with their lands. At present, the BDA has received 8,000 objections for the portions of land acquired by the BDA for Kempegowda layout. While the layout, claimed to be the largest development initiative undertaken by the BDA, awaits the final notification for land acquisition, the awarding of compensation and placing the available sites on the open market will take anywhere between six months to a year.

BDA officials state that the reason for this has been the change in regulations which mandate that every objection made towards land acquisition has to be looked into.
“Earlier, the authorities would just overrule any and every objection. But now we have to look into every objection individually and disburse them,” the BDA official pointed out. Meanwhile, another proposed layout in the vicinity of Bangalore, the Shivram Karanth Layout spread over 3,546 acres and 11 guntas still awaits the completion of the preliminary notification and Government approval.

The Layout has already received 12,000 objections and now the BDA is in the process of notifying individual katha holders.

Rly Minister reviews works in City

Rly Minister reviews works in City
Bangalore, Sep 28, dhns:

Union Minister of State for Railways K H Muniyappa on Saturday reviewed the progress of ongoing construction work at flyovers, Road Underbridges (RUB) and Road Overbridges (ROB) at different parts of the City.

Accompanied by Railway and Corporation officials, he visited Hebbal Cross, Banaswadi, Lingarajapuram, Kanakanagar, Sultanpalya and Byappanahalli. BBMP Joint Commissioner Maheswar Rao assured that the BBMP would release funds for the RUB to be constructed at Lingarajapuram shortly. The BBMP would submit a detailed project report to the Railways for its approval within a couple of days, he added.

The railways and residents of Lingarajapuram have been on a collision course ever since the unmanned level-crossing on the Hennur Main Road was sealed following an accident. The residents have demanded that the crossing be opened while the Railways has assured the construction of an RUB to facilitate the public.

Greener Bangalore? Sow be it

Greener Bangalore? Sow be it
By: Chetan R Date: 2009-09-28 Place: Bangalore

Techies are planning to distribute thousands of seeds this monsoon as part of an eco initiative

A group of techies in Bangalore is sowing the seeds for a greener tomorrow through its 'seed ball' campaign.

Samraksha, which includes professionals from companies like Wipro and Nokia, is planning to distribute 75,000 seeds across the city before the rains recede as part of the forum's 'save green' initiative.

Small balls containing seeds of indigenous species that suits the soil here like neem and green bamboo are made using clay, soil and manure. These are then distributed among school children and volunteers.

"This unique campaign has been launched in the rainy season as it is an ideal time for seeds to sprout," said Stephen Anthony, a volunteer.

So far, the techies' forum has distributed over 40,000 seeds in Shanthinagar including eight schools there and plans to take the campaign to other parts of the city including Madivala, Gandhinagar and the outskirts.

Going green

Samraksha launched the seed ball campaign after their recent awareness campaign among students turned out to be a hit. Saplings were planted and named after the child planting and caring for it.

This time too, they've roped in students of government and private schools apart from the families of members.

"School children prepare these seed balls which are later thrown on barren land and free spaces," added Stephen. "The seeds will sprout after the monsoon. That's why the campaign was specially planned for the rainy season."

Samraksha volunteers, who have successfully completed a similar campaign in companies like Nokia, also aim to include working professionals through events in their respective firms.

The campaign, besides increasing Bangalore's green cover, is also drawing like-minded volunteers to its fold.

"We will join hands with the software professionals who are aiming big and working towards it," said B N Shivshankar, founder, Mukthidhama, a trust working for a greener Bangalore.

"As this is the need of the hour, volunteers working with us will also join them in getting back our lost treasure," he added.


The pre-cast magic box on Sanjay Nagar underpass shrank by more than three inches following recent rains. On Sunday, it led to the first fatality. More danger awaits vehicles on this stretch, which accommodates 2,800 passenger car units every hour

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) introduced the much-touted magic box technology to provide seamless connectivity to Bengaluru International Airport (BIA). But just months after various underpasses became functional, serious inherent shortcomings have come to the fore, with potentially calamitous fallout.
The Sanjay Nagar underpass has shrunk for the second time in less than 48 days. It had shrunk by an inch on Aug 10. It has shrunk by three more inches now. More than 2,800 passenger car units cross this underpass every hour. On Sunday, the uneven surface resulted in a casualty when a two-wheeler fell under the underpass and the pillion rider succumbed to injuries. The incident took place when the deceased, Lakshmi (31) of Manjunath Layout, R T Nagar, was returning home along with her husband and kid. Police said, the driver lost control when negotiating the shrunk part of the underpass. REPAIR WORK ON
After the shocking incident, RT Nagar traffic police knocked on BBMP’s doors to initiate necessary action. ACP traffic (North) S N Gangadhar said, “We have asked BBMP to undertake immediate repair.” On Monday, vehicles were not allowed to use the underpass, while those moving on the surface were also diverted.
Confirming the shrinkage, a BBMP official said, “Yes, it has shrunk by nearly three inches. We expected this as it was the first monsoon showers since construction. One of the pre-cast elements supporting a concrete slab has shrunk. Now, we are in the process of replacing it with wet mix macadam.” However, BBMP executive engineer (underpass cell) M S Vishwanath said, “We have closed the road for traffic as we are undertaking deflection test. This is necessary to study the nature of vehicles moving over the surface pass. We had requested cops to divert traffic. By Tuesday, vehicles will be allowed to move over the underpass and also take a U-turn.”
Major magic boxes at Bellary road
Le Meridian junction BDA junction Cauvery junction Sanjay Nagar junction CBI junction RT Nagar
Other magic boxes Maharani College junction KR Circle junction BEWARE OF QUICK-FIXES
In the run-up to the BIA inauguration last year, BBMP went ahead with pre-cast magic boxes on Bellary road, starting from Cauvery junction underpass. Sanjay Nagar underpass was constructed using 4.5 metre pre-cast RCC structures, to ease traffic at various bottlenecks. It was opened just six months ago after spending nearly Rs 2 crore. A month back, traffic police brought various deficiencies to the attention of the BBMP.
But ‘shortcut after shortcut’ seemed to be the mantra of BBMP. It repaired the shrinkage of the surface pass within a single day and then allowed traffic to continue as usual.
A traffic police manning the circle said, “BBMP used pre-cast elements, cutting down on money, time and traffic hassles, but who will be held responsible if an underpass falls?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The revenge of phantom lakes

The revenge of phantom lakes

Bosky Khanna. Bangalore

The authorities may be raising a hue and cry on the need to clear encroachments every time the city is at the receiving end of the wrath of rain. But a seminar — Conservation and Management of Urban Lakes — held at the Indian Institute of Science here on Saturday, indicted the authorities for their willful laxity over the encroachment of lakes which causes flooding and water-logging in the Bangalore city during monsoon.
Experts and researchers participating in the seminar wondered how encroachment of lakes could continue despite stringent laws to protect them.
Citing an instance, Convenor, Urban Ecology, Environment and Policy Research Group, Dr TV Ramachandra, said in earlier days a feeder from Rajajinagar came up to Sankey tank. But today, the feeder has vanished due to poor planning, following which everytime it rains, low-lying areas of Rajajinagar witness heavy flooding. Also, builders raise the level of the earth's surface, rendering other areas into low-lying ones, causing their flooding, he explained.
One needs to have a khata certificate and other land-related documents with maps before obtaining clearance for construction. Clearances have been given to construction on lake-beds, despite the rule that a buffer zone of 200 metres must be maintained between structures and lakes and that a distance of up to 30 metres from the lake be developed as green zones, he said.
State level expert appraisal committee chairman R Raghavendra Rao told sunday.dna, "Despite the rules, lake-beds are being occupied. How can the land be registered and clearance be obtained from BDA, BBMP and other authorities? There should be one strict enforcement agency instead of so many. All stake-holders of these agencies should come together and form a committee. As a member of the appraisal committee, I have prevented encroachment in some cases. But the files return and we are forced to give clearance. Thus there should be one committee for clearance and it should have the final say."

Buildings illegal but avoid axe

Buildings illegal but avoid axe

September 27th, 2009
By Our Correspondent

Sept. 26: More than 650 buildings worth a whopping Rs 3,000 crores listed for demolition for violation of various laws still stand in the city; With more than a little help from within officialdom.
While 350 buildings escaped the axe as they conformed, over 650 were stopped from proceeding as they did not have plan sanction, were on encroached land or had deviation of over 1,000 per cent.
Officials within BBMP have told Deccan Chronicle that the buildings listed as illegal structures were slapped with stay orders. Posters, listing the violation of building by-laws were pasted on the walls of the structures slated for demolition, and the owners stopped from going ahead. The stringent measures were imposed by the former BBMP commissioner 2007-09 with a vigilance cell tracking illegal constructions.
But senior government officials now say the vigilance cell is defunct and construction allowed to resume. BBMP commissioner Bharat Lal Meena dismissed these cases as “baseless allegations.” He said: “The Technical Vigilance Cell under the Commissioner is very much there and doing its job. The BBMP will not be soft on violators or encroachers for that matter and if anyone is saying that illegal constructions are being allowed to be completed then it’s a sheer rumour and a white lie.”



September 27th, 2009
By Our Correspondent

Sept. 26: The Congress protest rally on Saturday played havoc with traffic, with vehicles stuck on arterial roads connecting the Central Business District and around Vidhana Soudha.
Later in the day, traffic was thrown out of gear again with a huge festival rush in the evening. Hundreds of extra buses, plying to meet the higher demand, caused jams in the Majestic area and bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highways heading out of the city.
The Congress rally, which began bang in the middle of peak hour in the morning, affected traffic on Race Course Road, Sheshadripuram, Cubbon Road, Infantry Road and Queen’s Road. The police did not have any plan in place to divert traffic and prevent the gridlock.
“We closed the road to Vidhana Soudha for a brief while. Once Congress leaders and party workers were arrested, the traffic returned to normal,” a cop claimed. “The gridlock was caused because of the festival rush.”

Proud to be urban, but why can’t we be urbane

Proud to be urban, but why can’t we be urbane?

Two years ago around this time, Beijing was busy with preparations to host the 2008 Olympics. The city’s infrastructure was being substantially improved and state-of-the-art stadia were being built. Alongside, the authorities launched an interesting drive. Teaching civility to citizens to portray a better image of the city. Volunteers went around educating people against boorish behaviour in public — littering, nose-picking, urinating, needless honking, jumping signals, overtaking, etc. They were told to smile, stand in orderly queues, and generally be more polite. Policemen were asked to be more efficient, more courteous and better dressed. Touts who routinely harangued foreigners were given a stern warning. The campaign worked. And the world was witness to it.
India wants to do some such thing ahead of Commonwealth Games in Delhi. The authorities have warned Delhiites to behave. Stuck with tags like ‘boorish’ and ‘uncouth’, they have been given a rude wake-up call by home minister P Chidambaram to change their mindset. “We must behave as citizens of a big, good international city... We cannot expect a mega city’s policing to function properly if people do not change their behaviour. We still find vehicles jumping red lights... There are vehicles running without registration plates. Some cross roads where they shouldn’t. Pedestrians avoid using overground bridges or underground passes...,” says the minister. Will the people of Delhi heed his advice? Will they do a Beijing? Difficult to say.
Not just Delhi, every other city in India is witness to boorish behaviour by its citizens. A survey conducted in Mumbai shows urinating in public is the biggest offence among its citizens. The second biggest offence is spitting — the red paan stains that mark the city’s pavements and streets are testimony to this habit. The rest of the offences like littering, dumping debris and bio-medical waste all add to make the city one of the most unhygienic metros in the country and the world. Try to question the offenders. They are either shameless or quick to blame it on lack of clean toilets and bins.
The story is the same, be it in Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad or Bangalore. Surprisingly, we are well-behaved when we step out of the country. We observe road rules on foreign land, do not spit or urinate in public places, throw garbage only in dedicated bins, take skywalks/underpasses to cross roads... But as soon as we step into our land, we lose all civic sense. And we are good at blaming everyone but ourselves. Why do we behave so?
Take our own ‘high tech’, ‘happening city’ Bangalore. While it has emerged as the fastest-growing metropolis, we as citizens haven’t done anything good to match it. We lack civic sense. Our behaviour in public is anything but graceful.
We spit and urinate unabashedly in public
We use our streets as garbage bins. Throw waste into storm water drains, choking them
We have utter contempt for road rules. Engage in racing on roads. Get into a rage at the slightest provocation
We derive sadistic pleasure in honking while driving
We have least regard for pedestrians
We prefer to walk across a busy road even where there is a skywalk or subway
We are quick at pointing fingers at others
The world is seeing India rise as a superpower slowly and steadily. We as citizens, particularly in cities, must match this by imbibing good civic sense and shunning uncouth behaviour. If the Chinese can do it, why not us?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Volvo on the run

Volvo on the run

A new 52-seater Volvo bus launched by KSRTC at Shanthinagar bustand in Bangalore on Thursday.
Express News Service First Published : 25 Sep 2009 04:43:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 25 Sep 2009 07:38:03 AM IST
BANGALORE: The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on Thursday launched two world class multi-axle inter-city passenger Volvo buses, adding another milestone in terms of passenger comfort.
The first two buses were launched by Transport Minister R Ashoka at KSRTC Central Offices on KH Road. The buses, specially designed to suit Indian conditions, have greater seating capacity, comfort and ensure noiseless smooth journey to travellers on long-distance routes.
Launching the buses, Ashoka said that the Volvo Buses India Private Limited had offered two such multi-axle buses to KSRTC on a free trial operation for three months. “Initially, these two buses were operated on the Bangalore- Mysore route and thereafter, we have extended the trial operation on the Bangalore-Chennai inter-state route,” he added.
He informed that KSRTC has specially trained its drivers to run the multi-axle buses at the Volvo training centre in Bangalore.
“KSRTC is the first transport corporation among the state transport undertakings in the country to receive the first two Volvo multi-axle buses,” Ashoka said.
The salient features of the Volvo multi-axle inter-city bus include: 53 ergonomically-designed luxurious executive, reclining passenger seats, mobile and laptop charging points, two mounted LCD TVs of 26-inch and 17-inch dimensions and an emergency door on the right-hand side of the bus for safety.
Ashoka said that depending on the feedback from passengers and also based on the performance of the buses, KSRTC plans to induct more of these buses in its fleet. On the occasion, KSRTC relaunched its monthly lifestyle magazines - The Travellers’ Choice in English and Sarige Sourabha in Kannada. The magazines feature articles on tourism, lifestyle, steps by KSRTC, new facilities and a calendar of the premium services operated from Bangalore. KSRTC is believed to be the only public transport corporation in India to launch in-bus magazines and is said to reach nine lakh travellers every month.
Ashoka informed that Passenger Information System (PIS), a GPS-based audio and display system, will be inaugurated on September 26 in Mysore.
Seven new routes
The minister announced the extension of Volvo services by KSRTC on seven new routes, viz.
Bangalore-Ooty (four buses), Bangalore-Coimbatore (two buses), Bangalore-Shakaleshpur (two buses), Bangalore-Tiruchi (two buses), Bangalore-Dharmastala (two buses), Bangalore-Kukkesubramanya (two buses) and Bangalore- Davanagere (one bus).

Traffic at snail’s pace

Traffic at snail’s pace

A traffic gridlock at Mekhri Circle.
Express News Service First Published : 25 Sep 2009 04:30:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 25 Sep 2009 07:48:57 AM IST
BANGALORE: Traffic in the city was thrown out of gear on Thursday. The rains which started around 2 pm continued till 7 pm. The immediate impact was seen on the city roads with hundreds of thousands of vehicles stranded all over as the traffic moved at snail’s pace. Added to this, the poor drainage system pushed water onto the roads. The water level on some roads was so high that fire personnel had come to rescue commuters in three BMTC buses on the stretch between Anand Rao circle and Kino Theatre towards Malleshwaram.
Traffic in Majestic, Chikpet, Balepet, Cottonpet, Cantonment, Shivajinagar, K R Market, J C Road, M G Road, K H Road, Bellary Road connecting Bengaluru International Airport was so slow that a few air passengers had to return home after being unable to reach the airport in time to catch their flight.
The most affected areas include Benaganahalli, Sheshadri Road, K R Circle, Cubbon Road and K R Puram.
Meanwhile, the Chaamarajpet Merchants Association voluntarily blocked Bazaar Street after 25 shops and 10 houses were marooned on that stretch. Meteorological department said the rain was an indication of the arrival of the North East Monsoon.

havoc wreaked by the rain

Thursday morning unfolded before Bangaloreans with the havoc wreaked by the rain the night went past. But even before they could come to terms with the damage, the downpour returned after a few-hour break.

Damaged houses, water-logged roads and fallen trees on the streets brought home the horror. If the 70 mm rain on Wednesday destroyed property worth crore and severely stretched the BBMP men, the rains on Thursday evening stumped hundreds of motorists on the roads and trapped vehicles galore on flooded roads.
At the APMC Yard in Yeswanthpura, rain water was 10 feet deep in the cellar. This destroyed 400 bags of rice, several bags of pulses and chillies. Basmati rice bore the brunt of rain's fury as many bags containing the costly grain were submerged. At least 36 shops were flooded in the Yard.

A home built on a storm water drain (SWD) in Bhaireshwaranagar near Nagarabhavi collapsed on Wednesday night. The empty home collapsed as the force of the water destroyed the foundation of the building.

Water entered many homes in low-lying areas. "The small drains which have been blocked in our area created havoc. Even after repeated complaints, the authorities have taken no action," said Subbaiah, resident of Bhadrappa Layout.
People stuck in cars and buses had to be rescued by the fire and emergency services at Nayandhalli and near Kino Theatre in Seshadripuram. Across the City, six big trees fell in a span of 48 hours. A tree that fell at Sadashivanagar circle on Thursday blocked traffic for a good 45 minutes.

At 1.30 am on Thursday, people were rescued from a car stuck in rain at the Nayandahalli junction. "We had to rescue four people at the junction from a Tata Sumo stuck along with an empty ambulance," informed a fire and emergency personnel. Overall, the fire and emergency services were called in at eight different places to pump water out of homes and rescue people.

BBMP under pressure
BBMP Commissioner, Bharathlal Meena on Thursday undertook a survey of the badly affected low-lying areas in the city. He visited Mahalakshmi Layout, Gayatrinagar, Vidyanandanagar, Timber Yard and Bapujinagar and directed the officials to provide temporary shelter to the people whose homes were flooded.

The BBMP is providing food and shelter to slum dwellers, where flooding was reported, in the 60 community centres across the city. To ensure long-term results, Meena has asked all the Zonal Commissioners to prepare a comprehensive development plan to tackle future rain-related troubles.

On the agenda are building higher retaining walls for the SWDs and to increase the vent size of the existing ones for expanding the capacity of these drains. With silt accumulating even in drains which had been recently cleared, the BBMP is now trying to think of a way to undertake periodical de-silting of drains.
The repeated flooding of the underpass at Kino Theatre has raised serious questions of the SWD capacity in the vicinity. Terming the KinoTheatre underpass as a perennial problem during rains, Palike officials have now requested help from the BWSSB to provide a gradient or separator to ensure that water flowing from upstream is redirected to other locations.

"Because of the high walls there is no space for the water to flow and it gets accumulated at the underpass. Hence, we have asked the BWSSB chairman to build the separator to clear the area of water-logging," informed a Palike official.

Yellappa Reddy quits BMRCL committee

Yellappa Reddy quits BMRCL committee

Staff Reporter
BANGALORE: Taking serious objection to what he called Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited’s indifference towards environment protection, A.N. Yellappa Reddy, Environment Impact Assessment and Monitoring Committee chairman of Namma Metro, has submitted his resignation from the post. The committee had become dysfunctional for the past two years after N. Sivasailam took over as BMRCL Managing Director, Mr. Reddy said.

In a tersely worded letter to Mr. Sivasailam, Mr. Reddy said the committee, constituted under his chairmanship by Namma Metro in 2006-07, comprised among others Shekhar Madhu of the Indian Institute of Science and heart specialist H. Paramesh. The committee met from time to time and discussed in length the impact of the mega project on the city’s environment. Whenever environmentalists raised their concern over the project’s impact, he as the chairman of the committee had addressed their apprehensions.

However, for the past two years, BMRCL had not convened even one meeting of the committee, which he said, spoke a lot about the corporation’s concern for the environment. “Indiscriminate felling of thousands of trees for the Namma Metro project across the city has shaken the environmentalists. As the details of how the project is impacting the environment due to the project are not available with me, I am unable to answer queries from the public,” Mr. Reddy said.

Mr. Reddy told presspersons that though he had submitted his resignation on September 22, BMRCL authorities had not bothered to contact him even as of Friday. He said the project was being executed by engineers on their own without any regard to the environmental consequences. No concrete steps appear to have been taken to minimise the damage, particularly during the proposed underground tunnelling work and construction of underground stations.

BMRCL also appears insensitive on the impact on prominent buildings such as the Central College, the Vidhana Soudha and the High Court, he said. He further noted that afforestation programme in lieu of felled trees was not being executed properly.

Efforts by The Hindu to contact Mr. Sivasailam went in vain.

High Court bans tree felling on UAS campus for laying link road

High Court bans tree felling on UAS campus for laying link road

Staff Reporter
BANGALORE: Environmentalists and public-spirited persons battling the decision of the authorities to build a link road within the sprawling premises of the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore, scored a major victory when the Karnataka High Court on Friday directed the authorities to refrain from cutting or removing any tree within the UAS campus.

A Division Bench comprising Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice Aravind Kumar passed the order on a petition by several former Vice-Chancellors of UAS, Bangalore, including R. Dwarkinath, G.K. Veeresh, K.V. Devaraj, A.M. Krishnappa, M.N. Shelavantar, N.G. Perur and B. Bisalaiah. The petitioners had urged the court to restrain the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) from going ahead with the construction of a road linking Yeshwanthpur with Yelahanka via Bellary Road. They wanted a direction to the authorities not to cut or remove any tree in the guise of building a road.The Bench, in an interim order, directed the BBMP not to cut trees and adjourned the case.

Greens win: no tree-felling in GKVK

Greens win: no tree-felling in GKVK

Bangalore: The high court on Friday directed the BDA and BBMP not to cut tress on the GKVK campus. The vacation division Bench headed by Justice A S Bopanna passed this interim order on a PIL challenging the proposed 9.5-km link road connecting Yeshwantpur and Yelahanka and the BIA, and cutting of hundreds of trees on the GKVK campus to build it. Earlier, counsel for BBMP told the court that no more trees would be cut. The court posted the matter after the Dasara vacation.
Counsel for petitioners told the court that the road was opposed by the UAS’ board of regents at its meeting on May 29, 2009.
But, on August 18, it took a diametrically opposite decision. Vidyaranyapura residents opposed the road and cutting of trees. The governor asked the authorities to heed their plea. The BBMP moved men and machinery to cut the trees on September 5 and 700-odd trees were cut or felled.
Seven former vice-chancellors of UAS and UAS Employees Association are among the petitioners.

Security up near Soudha for Cong rally

Security up near Soudha for Cong rally

Bangalore: If you are heading towards MG Road and Cubbon Park for your weekend fun, you must read this.
The city police have clamped prohibitory orders to prevent any untoward incident on Saturday as the Congress has decided to lay siege to the Vidhana Soudha to prevent ministers from entering the building.
While the Congress has promised to make the protest, starting from 10.30 am, a peaceful one, there could be traffic jams and chaos around Vidhana Soudha and its vicinities.
Not more than 150 leaders will take part in the protest. On whether it was possible to execute this siege, KPCC chief R V Deshpande quipped: “Just wait and watch.” Today, venture out at your own risk Cong To Lay Siege To Vidhana Soudha Ban Orders Clamped No Traffic Diversions
Bangalore: A confrontation between the BJP government and the opposition Congress seems to be on the cards over the latter’s ‘capture-Soudha’ protest.
While the Congress has promised to make the protest starting from 10.30 am a peaceful one, the police, in an unprecedent move, have clamped prohibitory orders in areas of four police station limits — High Grounds, Shivajinagar, Cubbon Park and Vidhana Soudha. The orders will be in force from 6 am to 6 pm.
But surprisingly, the traffic police have not issued any road restrictions or diversions.
A traffic police official said no diversions will be in place and if there are any traffic obstructions, on-field officers will handle the situation.
Opposition leader in the legislative assembly Siddaramaiah said: “We are capturing Vidhana Soudha peacefully. There will be no traffic jam. We will not violate the prohibitory orders, but my party legislators will be inside Vidhana Soudha at 9.30 am as I have convened a meeting.’’
Defending the prohibitory orders, chief minister B S Yeddyurappa said: “These are not good times. We have terrorist threats. We should be careful. We have no say in this. The officers have taken the decision.’’ Normally, prohibitory orders are imposed around 1 km radius of Vidhana Soudha, during protests or rallies.
Saturday’s orders extend to as far as Palace Grounds to Vasanthnagar to Russel Market to K R Circle.
The areas under prohibitory orders — Vidhana Soudha surroundings, Raj Bhavan Road, Thimmaiah Road, Brigade Road, Residency Road, Cubbon Park, K R Circle, Maharani College Road, Russel Market, Queen’s Road, Ghousia Hospital Road, Thimmaiah Road, Station Road, Basaveshwara Circle, Vasanthnagar, Palace Grounds, Race Course Road, Madhav Nagar, Shivananda Circle, Cunningham Road.
Those who violate the order will be prosecuted under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), which attracts a punishment of simple imprisonment of one month to six months or with fine or with both.
Exercising his powers under section 35 of the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, city police commissioner Shankar Bidari has said some activities are prohibited.
Assembly of five persons Carrying of lethal weapons Shouting of slogans or obstruction of traffic Taking out processions Burning effigies
Congress keeps battle strategy a secret
The Congress on Friday was reticent about revealing its strategy to ‘awaken the government from its slumber’ by laying siege to Vidhana Soudha on Saturday.
“We have called a meeting in Vidhana Soudha to chalk out strategies to be adopted in the next few months to protest against the BJP government,” KPCC president R V Deshpande said on Friday.
Not more than 150 leaders will take part in the protest. “Only our party’s sitting and former legislators will take part,” he maintained.
On whether it was possible to execute this siege with 150 persons when over 1,000 policemen are likely to cordon off the entire area, Deshpande quipped: “Just wait and watch.”
He said the BJP government has failed on every front and chief minister B S Yeddyurappa has no moral standing to govern the state.
“The disappointment of the people will be visible in the protest,” he added. TNN

It’s common sense to extend Metro to BIA’

It’s common sense to extend Metro to BIA’

Bangalore: ABIDe, the body set up by chief minister B S Yeddyurappa to frame a comprehensive plan to revive and rebuild Bangalore, has expressed reservations about a high-speed rail link (HSRL) to the airport, a project that recently won the approval of the Vision Group on Infrastructure, another body set up by the CM. R K Misra, an ABIDe member involved with transportation planning, tells TOI that a Metro to the airport is a much better option.
Why do you prefer the Metro as
the link to the airport?
Given that we are developing an extensive Metro network, common sense suggests that the Metro should be extended to the airport so that a passenger from, say, Whitefield or Electronics City or Peenya, can use the Metro to reach the airport without the need to change to a different mode of transport at a different station or location. The catchment area becomes much larger, making the service economically viable too.
Do you think transfer from the Metro to the HSRL at the MG Road transit station will be inconvenient?
Yes. The transfer will dissuade many passengers from using the HSRL. Most users of HSRL will be from in and around Bangalore’s central parts.
What about the argument that airport passengers need a fast and dedicated service?
The Bangalore Metro Rail Corp has proposed to run hourly or half-hourly airport express services (based on need) from terminus points such as Whitefield, Electronics City and Peenya, along with their normal Metro services. This express service could run faster — without stopping at each station, like in Tokyo or London — after a certain point. For instance, the MG Road link could have only two stops, say, at Hebbal and Yelahanka, like the proposed HSRL.
If the HSRL is implemented on a PPP basis and the private party takes on
most of the investment burden, won’t the city save money?
Cost to the government should be an important criterion. The cost of extending the Metro to the airport should be compared to the cost to the exchequer of the HSRL by way of viabilitygap funding and other sops in the form of land. If HSRL comes at a substantially lower cost to the government than the Metro, then we should consider the HSRL.

Bangalore’s walkability quotient low

Bangalore’s walkability quotient low
Ambika Pandit, Ruhi Bhasin & Megha Suri | TNN

New Delhi: If you are among those Bangaloreans who rely on walking to complete most of your chores, you deserve more than a pat. For, you do so in a pedestrian-unfriendly city that does not rate walking anywhere near transport although 17% of its citizens mostly get about on foot.
A look at Bangalore’s congested footpaths and crumbling sidewalks is proof enough of the pedestrian’s nightmare. But now a Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) report has pointed to how deficient the city is in terms of walkability.
Despite its densely packed population, Mumbai seems more walker-friendly with as much as 55% of its population walking regularly. This figure is 32% in Delhi.
Despite the large number of urban ‘walkers’, WWF’s Alternative Urban Futures Report, to be released at the First Habitat Summit in Delhi on Saturday, reveals a general absence of emphasis on pedestrians, street culture and walkways as far as urban planning goes.
Even though suburban trains carry thousands of Mumbai commuters to work, the sight of people pouring out of stations is common enough. Mumbai is followed by Ahmedabad, where about 40% of the people walk to get around, followed by Bangalore (17%) and Kolkata (12%). Smaller towns walk more: study
New Delhi: A study of 30 Indian cities shows that, on an average, almost 40% of all trips in urban India still do not involve motorized vehicles; 28% walk and 11% cycle. The proportion rises sharply in smaller towns since distances are usually small and roads less congested. In bigger cities, the proportion of people using conventional public transport is high, and consequently commuters walked the last mile.
In cities with more than 8 million population, 22% walk all the way, 8% use cycles and 44% public transport. This adds up to 74% people who rely on non-motorized transport for at least part of their commute, the study adds. The study elaborates walkability as requiring ‘a whole gamut of urban design requirements like density, mixed use, street life, pedestrian crossings, tree shade, public spaces’.
Sanjeev Sanyal, founder of the Sustainable Planet Institute, says: “It is a myth that it is too hot to walk in a city like Delhi. Singapore has hot and humid temperature almost throughout the year but people still walk there. The problem is, walking and cycling are not being included as a legitimate form of transport.’’

So many city bosses, but who’s doing rain-damage control?

So many city bosses, but who’s doing rain-damage control?
Seethalakshmi S | TNN

Bangalore: Three MPs, 16 MLAs, three ministers dedicated for Bangalore urban development, a vision group and an agenda for Bangalore infrastructure development. And 198 corporators on the way.
Yet the IT capital collapses when the skies open up. Year after year and rain after rain, Bangaloreans put up with waters gushing into their homes, stink that emanates from the overflowing storm water drains, flooded lanes and thoroughfares and chock-a-block roads.
Virtually everyone involved in Bangalore’s development points a finger at disappearing lakes and the consequent flooding. “We have lost nearly 50 lakes and tanks during the last few years. Where will the water go? It gets into homes and the roads,” says BBMP commissioner Bharat Lal Meena.
Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure and Development (Abide) member Ashwin Mahesh says its a vicious
circle. “Since drains are open, it invites debris which results in block and then overflows into the roads.”
If faulty drainage system is the excuse, why aren’t the experts setting it right? If encroachment on storm water drain is common, why are officials who sanction the plan for these buildings not sacked?
Grandiose plans to make Bangalore a Shanghai or Singapore comes to a naught when the skies open up. Why? None, neither the Bangalore ministers nor urban experts have an answer. While A Ravindra, adviser to the chief minister on urban affairs, says a comprehensive policy on drainages is the answer, ABIDe convener and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar feels ad hoc measures for a growing Bangalore have killed the city. “We must have midterm and long-term solutions. It’s not about closing one pothole but looking at the entire road which is the need of the hour. But our authorities have only immediate solutions.”
Bangaloreans have had enough of this blame-game. Rains during the last 48 and more hours have wreaked havoc. Several areas were inundated, vehicles stuck on flooded roads for hours on end. Worse, enough money has gone down the drain. BBMP alone has spent close to Rs 300 crore in recent years on remodelling drains. Yet tragedies recur.
Do we Bangaloreans deserve this?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


With the Palike offering no money in compensation, land owners on Dr Rajkumar Road - where the civic body is planning an underpass - refuse to give up their rights

The Transferable Development Rights has once again played spoilsport for the BBMP projects. The latest one to fall prey is the underpass project at Dr Rajkumar Road.
This Rs 125-crore plan, which has six underpasses, is expected to ease the crowded 5-km stretch. With a PCU (passenger car units) of close to 15,000 per hour, the road is among the busiest as it directly connects the city to Yeshwantpur, Basaweshwaranagar and Rajajinagar.
Six underpasses have been planned at Okalipuram junction, Vivekananda College Circle, 10th Cross, Navrang Theatre, Breach Stone and Navrang Bar and require 85 commercial buildings, 17 residences, two properties belonging to the BBMP and 1,000 sqft of railway property at Okalipuram.
But the BBMP has run into resistance from property owners. “The width of the road is approximately 24 metres and the underpasses will be 31 metres wide. The total land required is 9,000 sq mts. Except for Okalipuram and Vivekananda College Circle, we are having problems with land acquisition,” said a BBMP engineer.
Despite the TDR requisitions that have been out since August 24, not a single requisition has been filed. “The market value of land on the 5-km stretch is approximately Rs 3,000 per sqft. The BBMP is offering TDR options of 50 per cent. If you are losing about 100 sqft of property, we are offering a TDR option of 150 sqft of built-up area calculated in accordance with the Floor Area Ratio (FAR). Should the owner decide to sell his TDR option, he will be getting Rs 4,500 per sqft. There have been queries about the project,” said Vijay Kumar, Executive Engineer, Major Works Department, Special Projects, which is handling the project.
But with no money being offered, there are no takers. “Without an attractive compensation, the land owners refuse to give up their rights,” said an engineer of the department.
The tenants on the road have no clue but are worried. “Our owners will opt to sell their TDR options instead of sinking more capital into the building. If we do find a way around the problem, who will compensate us for the loss incurred during construction?” says Srinivas Kumar, who runs a tyre shop on the road.
The property owners are also reluctant. “I don’t even get money for having lost such prime property and have to find another buyer,” says Nagaraj Shetty, who owns a 30 X 20 shop in the vicinity.
This isn’t the first time the BBMP has faced this problem because of TDR. Of the 95 roadwidening projects notified in 2005, only six have been completed and engineers in the Major Works Department blame it on land acquisition for the delay.
The Palike has yet to find a solution. “There have been debates at the Urban Development Department and letters exchanged on finding an alternative. But we do not have the resources to pay the market. If the residents decide to tie us up in legal tangles, there is little that we can do,” say BBMP officials. Meanwhile, Transport Minister R Ashok has said the government is considering al-OPTION TO BUILD/SELL
Transferable Development Rights or TDR means you are given the option of additional built-up area in return to the property you have lost. You can either choose to build or sell the option.
Unlike the BMRCL, which paid market value of land to the owners, the TDR does not appeal to small property owners because they lose in terms of property volume and not gain monetarily as well.The TDR option was also exploited by developers by buying them in bulk.The large property owners have been quick to grab the option as their property value escalates considerably.
lotting BDA sites of similar dimensions to people who have lost their homes to infrastructure projects.

The Electronics City flyover is almost ready. Here’s everything that you need to know about it

The Electronics City flyover is almost ready. Here’s everything that you need to know about it

Picture this: Just 12 minutes from Bommanahalli to Electronics City and 25 minutes from Bommanahalli to Hosur. This may seem like a dream for thousands of commuters travelling on the busy Hosur Road everyday, but it will soon become reality. The Bangalore Mirror team was the first to drive on the ‘nearly completed’ elevated highway, the 9 km Electronics City flyover.
As ours was the only vehicle on the flyover, we decided to drive at 40 kmph. We climbed the approach ramp from Bommanahalli side at 12.21 pm. By 12.23 pm we were at Sasken building and reached the other end of the flyover by 12.33 pm. The flyover offers a hassle-free drive. A car driven at 100 kmph could traverse the flyover in just six minutes. The Electronics City flyover is the longest in the city and offers a smooth drive for those using Hosur Road to get to Electronics City. Hosur Road has the densest traffic in the city as it forms both the golden quadrilateral (connecting Bangalore and Chennai) and North-South corridor (connecting Kanyakumari).
Currently, a final layer of bitumin is being laid. This will be followed by a black topping. After this, the site engineers have to work on expanding joints besides taking up electrification and completing crash barriers, kerb painting and plantation.
The second phase is also expected to be ready along with the flyover. Of the three flyovers, one at Bommasandra is ready, while the Chandapura and Attibele flyovers need another two months for completion.
You need to wait till November before driving on the elevated highway.
The project was
earlier scheduled to be open this week. A National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) official said, “We now expect the project to open in November first week. However, ground realities may push it to the middle of November.” The project was conceived in September 2004 while the ground work started in July 2006. It was supposed to be completed in July 2008. Initially, it was escalating costs of cement and steel that delayed the project, followed by recession and the Maytas scam. Now, incessant rainfall is playing spoilsport, according to officials.
The elevated road project is constructed on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. According to the Bangalore Elevated Tollway Limited (BETL) website, the Rs 775.7 crore project is being executed through special purpose vehicle BETL, created by the joint venture partners involving Maytas Infra, Nagarjuna Construction Company (NCC) and Soma
Enterprises (SEL).
Flyovers are always criticised as not a viable alternative as they are said to shift traffic from one junction to another. There are similar fears being expressed about the Hosur flyover as the Silk Board flyover could turn out to be a bottleneck. Traffic experts say that the vehicles can move smoothly from Hosur to Central Silk Board junction but may pile up thereafter as there are no free turns at the grade separator. They suggest clover leaf or semi clover leaf models for clearing traffic at Central Silk Board.
Though the project is set for completion by this year end, techies have to wait for some more time before taking a free turn from Electronics City phase one and two. Another flyover which was to give a free turn between two phases is still in the limbo. The loop work has been halted over a court case.
The railway under bridge for service roads near Chandapura (Salem Railway line) has been temporarily halted. An official said, “We are yet to get railways’ permission for the work. Hence, service roads are not being completed at that stretch.”
The NHAI is planning to have an additional up and down ramp near HP gate. Land acquisition is already in progress. Apart from this, one more pedestrian subway is to come up at Electronics City.
Sometime back, a school boy was run over at Tirumagondahalli Gate. Now, a foot overbridge is set to be constructed at the spot for easier movement of pedestrians.
Vehicles using elevated highway to Electronics City have to pay the toll while it is free in the existing surface road. However, vehicles crossing the Attibele toll plaza (near Tamil Nadu Border) have to pay the toll.
Highway Traffic Management System (HTMS) 5 CCTVs to cover the entire stretch of highway Electronic toll collection Emergency call box Meteorological details
2-wheeler: Free Autorickshaw: Free Car: Rs 20 LCV: Rs 30 Bus/Truck: Rs 50 HCV: Rs 105 (Toll to be collected near Attibele border)
2-wheeler: Rs 15 Autorickshaw: No entry Car: Rs 30 LCV: Rs 40 Bus/Truck: Rs 70 HCV: Rs 140 (Toll to be collected at end of Electronics City) (The exact toll rates at Attibele and Electronics City will be finalised before the inauguration)