Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Can PPP save India's IT capital from crumbling?

Can PPP save India's IT capital from crumbling?

Maitreyee BoruahFirst Published : 21 Sep 2009 01:49:06 PM IST
BANGALORE: With heavy showers leading to massive traffic jams and yet another child dying after falling into a flooded drain, residents and experts say only public-private partnership (PPP) can save Bangalore's crumbling infrastructure and give it an image makeover.
"To mend the city's civic amenities is the collective responsibility of both the government and the public," V. Ravichander, a former member of the now defunct Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF), told IANS.
South Bangalore, home to upscale localities and the offices of major IT and multinational firms, was the worst affected in a 30-mm downpour last week, with traffic movement held up at some places for more than three hours.
Rain water flooded the roads, as drains were choked, resulting in many vehicles breaking down, adding to commuter woes on already narrow roads. There are around three million vehicles in Bangalore and the number is growing.
In another incident last week, an 18-month-old boy, Vijay, was washed away in a drain that had flooded due to rains. He was a child of migrant labourers from Tamil Nadu and his body could not be found even after three days of search in the drain and a nearby lake.
Barely four months ago, on May 31, a six-year-old boy had slipped into another flooded drain when he was walking with his mother. His body too has not been found.
"It's a shame that in India's IT hub children are dying by falling into flooded drains. The government is meant to fix the infrastructure of the city and develop its amenities before they worsen," said Ayaan Khan, a software professional.
But Ravichander, who is also an expert on the city's public infrastructure, said: "Vijay's death is an unfortunate incident. But public memory is very short; we'll forget the episode in a couple of days.
"Blaming the government or the city's municipal corporation is not going to end Bangalore's troubles. Rather, government agencies and denizens of Bangalore have to come together to put an end to such mishaps."
Echoing him, a senior member of Janaagraha, a non-profit organisation working towards citizens' involvement in democracy and democratic processes, said the approach of both residents and government agencies needs to be changed.
"Shifting the blame on each other is not going to help develop Bangalore. The city being the IT hub of India should have its civic amenities in place. Proper planning of the city is the need of the hour, to have a strong future for Bangalore," said the member of Janaagraha, who did not wish to be named.
However, Karnataka Lokayukta (ombudsman) Santosh Hedge, who is a retired judge of the Supreme Court, has blamed the Greater Bangalore City Corporation (BBMP) for the poor civic amenities in this city of eight million people.
"It's a known fact that drains get flooded during monsoon. BBMP simply doesn't bother to fence the drains to avoid people slipping into them," said Hedge.
Encroachment of land near lakes, which serve as natural drains for Bangalore, along with blockage of drains due to plastic bags is a major factor leading to the flooding of drains in the city.


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