Friday, October 30, 2009

Garden city Bangalore? 50,000 trees cut, more to go

Garden city Bangalore? 50,000 trees cut, more to go

IANS 30 October 2009, 09:47am IST
BANGALORE: Garden city could soon become concrete city. Bangalore has lost around 50,000 trees in recent years to infrastructure development and nearly 300 more will soon go for the Metro rail project.

Environmentalists and citizens fear that rampant felling could cost the city its 'green heritage' tag. Their fear is supported by heaps of logs of axed trees and tree stumps dotting roads across Bangalore.

"It's sad to see so many trees being axed down in the name of development. I fell in love with Bangalore because of its green cover, but in recent times, trees are fast vanishing from its landscape," septuagenarian Praveen Mehta, a native of Punjab who has been settled here for two decades, told IANS.

"Trees are Bangalore's famed heritage. Please don't let them vanish so fast," pleaded Mehta, a former government employee.

As many as 279 more trees will soon be axed down for 'Namma Metro' - the upcoming metro rail in central Bangalore, specially near the legislative assembly building Vidhana Soudha and Central College roads.

In the past two to three years alone, Bangalore has lost around 50,000 trees, felled for for developmental activities, states a report of the Environment Support Group (ESG), a Bangalore-based NGO and part of Hasiru Usiru (Greenery is Life), a conglomeration of community organisations.

Hasiru Usiru has been at the forefront to protest the "illogical destruction" of Bangalore's greenery for developmental works.

"Most of the trees dotting the Vidhana Soudha and Central College areas are as old as 150 years. They are our heritage. It takes years for a tree to grow and cutting them in a few hours in the name of development is not logical," said Vinay Sreenivasa, coordinator of Hasiru Usiru.

The group now plans to send a memorandum to Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) to shelve its project in areas where they have to cut down a large number of trees.

"If our memorandum is not honoured, then we will start our protest," said Sreenivasa.

"It is sad that in spite of so many protests staged by us in the last few months, the government is yet to do anything to save the city's trees. Bangalore was known for its vast tree cover. Most of the trees felled down in recent times have been part and parcel of Bangalore for over five decades," said Sreenivasa.

According to different environment groups, BMRCL has axed a large number of trees at several places, including the Lalbagh Botanical Garden, considered the city's green lung.

According to environmentalists, not only has the city's green beauty been destroyed due to developmental works, but the loss of green cover is also harming the Karnataka capital's climate.

"Bangalore's weather is changing fast. Bangalore is no more pleasant as it was earlier. If trees continue to be chopped off rapidly, the city's average temperature will rise by two-three degrees Celsius in the coming years," said environmentalist Yellappa Reddy.


Mercury levels have dipped since Wednesday due to overcast skies in the city; Met dept attributes it to the NE Monsoon which has just set in

It’s a cool relief from the hot sun as the overcast sky has brought down mercury levels in the city since Wednesday. Meteorologists attribute the ‘cooling effect’ to the North-East Monsoon, which officially set in on Thursday.
Met department director B Puttanna said, “As the days become shorter and the nights become longer, temperature is bound to come down. This is how winter occurs. But that doesn’t mean that winter is here.”
Along with the cooler nights, there will be rains too. “The easterly winds which have started blowing towards the state are likely to bring rain. On Wednesday, skies were cloudy in the morning and it rained later. This phenomenon will continue for some more days and eventually stop as the winter approaches. There will be rain in the next 48 hours and it will stop by November 15,” he said. The maximum temperature has decreased and will further go down in the next two days. “The current maximum temperature is 29 degree Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius. This will go down by one or two degrees. Winds will also be stronger in south interior Karnataka, including Bangalore,” he said.
The weather has been comparatively drier this October. “Last year, the city received 193.7 millimetres of rainfall in October but only 24.1 millimetres this time. This is due to the receding South-West Monsoon and delay in the arrival of North East Monsoon,” said Puttanna. This year, the wettest month was September, with 348.8 mm of rain. June came second with 204.6 mm rainfall and August 152 mm.s

Public ire against project grows

Public ire against project grows

Staff Reporter
Experts say traffic volume does not warrant underpass at Tagore Circle
— Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

FIRST HAND INFORMATION: A. Ravindra, Adviser to Chief Minister, inspecting the underpass work near Tagore Circle at Basavanagudi in Bangalore on Thursday.
BANGALORE: Even as public opinion against the ongoing construction of the underpass at Rabindranath Tagore Circle in Basavanagudi is mounting, traffic experts too maintain that the traffic volume at the circle did not warrant the construction of the underpass.

M.N. Sreehari, traffic expert and member of Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDe), said the underpass was not required at the junction because of the low passenger car unit (PCU) per hour. “An underpass would have been necessary if the PCU was over 10,000. However, at Tagore Circle, the PCU is just 4,750.”

He said that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which has taken up the underpass construction under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme, should instead look at easing congestion at busy junctions in the city, such as Peenya Circle, Shivananda Circle, South End Circle, N.R. Circle and Ring Road junctions.

No details
A member of the State Government’s Technical Advisory Committee claimed that the project details had not been submitted to the committee. “The committee members met on Thursday and many were not aware of the underpass construction. Top traffic officials claimed at the meeting that they were in the dark and came to know of the project only after the civic authority took up the work on Sunday,” the member said.

Residents of Basavanagudi are up in arms over the project. Krishna Murthy, proprietor of M.S.R. Service Station, said that the face of Basavanagudi had changed for the worse. “With the ongoing metro work on R.V. Road and National High School Road and the current underpass construction at Tagore Circle, the character of the historical locality is under threat. The density of traffic on this road does not warrant an underpass,” he said.

Mohan Adiga, manager of Trupti Upahaar, opposite Basavanagudi Police Station, alleged that the underpass construction was a waste of public funds. “This project is as useless as the National College flyover. It was first proposed a few years ago and was dropped soon after due to stiff public opposition. We do not know why the project has been taken up now,” he said.

A resident of Garuthman Park in Basavanagudi said that if vehicular movement was diverted onto the National College Flyover, there would be no necessity for the underpass at Tagore Circle. “The civic authorities seem to have taken up this project only to ensure that the funds sanctioned under JNNURM do not lapse. There is no signal at the circle and traffic density is a little high only during the peak hours,” he maintained.

Ravindra inspects spot
Advisor to Chief Minister A. Ravindra visited the circle for a spot inspection on Wednesday. “The project was mainly taken up to ease traffic at the busy junction. There are related issues, such as making provisions for pedestrian crossing and bus bays, which have been conveyed to the BBMP authorities. The Coordination Committee of ABIDe will meet sometime next week to discuss the project further,” he told The Hindu.

BBMP officials claimed the project was taken up as per the Indian Roads Congress guidelines. They claimed that they would complete the Rs. 19.5 crore project within 10 months. “We have fulfilled all pre-requisites and informed the departments concerned before taking up the project contrary to the allegations. We have even conducted a traffic survey as per the standard format,” they maintained.

Carpooling fails to gather speed as traffic and work patterns clash

Carpooling fails to gather speed as traffic and work patterns clash

Although carpooling reduces virtually all expenses related to owing a car by sharing cars, sharing rental charges, or paying the main car owner, the concept remains unpopular in Bangalore. Shwetha S explores the reasons behind this.

Shwetha S

Amid rising petrol prices, traffic congestion, and pollution, Bangalore's commuters can carpool to save money, time and reduce stress of travel. But two years after the concept was introduced, carpooling remains a nonstarter as there are few takers.
Clash of timings, habits, and egos of carpoolers, their need for privacy, and minimum number to form the pool are some of the factors that keep carpooling in Bangalore on the slow track.
Bangaloreans work longer. If their managers tell to stay back, they can't say their carpool is waiting down.
The demands of their jobs require that they may have to come in early one day, stay late another day, and be thus flexible.
"I travel from Hebbal to Manya Tech Park along with a colleague. We were carpooling every alternate day. But sometimes due to unscheduled meetings, I had to stay back in office. This made him wait for me although his work was over. So we stopped carpooling on a regular basis. Instead, we now go according to our convenience," said Ragunath N, an IT professional.
Shiva Prakash, another IT employee, had a similar story to tell.
"I travel to Electronics City every day. Initially, we carpooled. But gradually, our timings began to clash and the commuters started to leave one by one. Now we travel alone in our cars," Prakash said.
Traffic expert MN Sri Hari explained the situation. "In Bangalore, car pooling cannot be as successful as in Mumbai or foreign countries. The main reason is different work timings of commuters. Two carpoolers working in one company may find their timings changed and they will soon leave the pool," Sri Hari said.
Muralidhar Rao, another expert, agreed.
"Car polling cannot work successfully in Bangalore or any other city in India. Sometimes, commuters may have to stay back at office for an extra hour. So others may prefer using their own car without waiting for such facility once their work is over. There may be ego clashes too. For instance, the boss may not like to travel with the subordinates," Rao said.
Some countries have introduced high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to encourage carpooling and use of public transport to combat rising traffic congestion. But in India, we do not have such facility to cut travel time.
Some commuters, who do not want to sit with people who talk, smoke, cough or sneeze too much, may prefer to drive alone. Some others may not want to share their cab with anyone as they view it as an intrusion into their privacy.
Despite the lukewarm response, carpooling firms are full of hopes.
"We have received about 15,000 carpool registrations in the city in one-and-a-half years. Although the progress is gradual, we have been receiving favourable response from commuters. We want to make the service more user-friendly by introducing SMS service. Business is picking up and it will take time to make an impact," said Vipul Kasere, founder of Commute Easy.
Carpooling cannot happen in a one-sided way. It can work successfully only by the like-minded carpoolers, said Praveen Sood, additional commissioner of police (traffic).
"Before they get into the carpooling, commuters should consider whether the timings will work. If there are 15,000 registrations, it shows carpooling is working successfully. But more than IT professionals, schoolchildren are opting for this as their timings are fixed," Sood said.
"In Mumbai, in the span of three to four years, there have been about 20,000 to 25,000 registrations in carpooling. There, the carpooling has been favourable as car-goers are less, the city is bigger than Bangalore, and most Mumbaikars prefer company while travelling longer distances. And 60% of the people travel by train in Mumbai," Sri Hari said.

K R market raises stink

K R market raises stink
Sonali Desai, Bangalore, Oct 29, DHNS

K R Market, named after Mysore Maharaja Krishna Rajendra Wadiyar IV, is strewn with garbage all around. Footpaths are encroached upon by vendors hindering people’s movement.

“Garbage is cleared late in the afternoon, when customers come shopping. Cleaning and maintenance work does not take place daily. Officials concerned have not addressed our problems,” said Secretary of K R Market Merchant Association K N Janardhan.

The market’s new building, opened in 1998 paints a dismal picture. While the building’s second floor remains unoccupied, footpaths are packed with fruits and vegetable vendors.

The BBMP official in-charge blames market users for flouting rules.

Assistant Executive Engineer BBMP Narayan informed that most of the shops were unauthorised and paid no rents.

The old and new market buildings cover almost 1,081 shops, which are on lease.
New building's basement has 507 shops, while ground floor has 494 shops and 165 mutton stalls.

Eventhough, the contractor in-charge of cleaning the market claimed that he cleared 60 tonnes of waste daily, misery of shop owners remain unabated due to fetid dumping yard.

Around 185 cleaners clean the City market building in two shifts. They unload waste at Mandur (K R Puram) dumping yard. Before it goes to the allotted dumping yard, waste is dumped in a pit on ground floor.


Two years ago, Mohammed Azam, who runs an iron shop in the premises, adjacent to the dumping yard, was admitted at St John's hospital, owing to dengue fever.
Even furnishing of medical certificate to a BBMP officer went in vain.

“After 6 pm stench emanating from the dumping yard and mosquitoes make it unbearable for us to sit in the shop,” said Mohammed Azam.

Even customers are victims.

“I am disgusted by the filth in the market. I am worried about the hygiene of vegetables and fruits bought from here,” said M S Suldhal, a first-timer to K R Market.

While contractors in-charge of cleaning complain lack of holidays even on festivals, the shopkeepers had to endure heaps of waste for eight-days during Dasara.

School students face the brunt

School students face the brunt
Bangalore,Oct 29, DHNS:

School and college students are apparently the hardest hit by the construction of the Tagore Circle underpass in Basavanagudi. Most of them now find it tough to return home on time, because the buses no longer stop near the dug-up stretch on KR Road.

The work has played havoc with the bus timing and the stops. With no bus stop at the Basavangudi Police Station and the B P Wadia Road too narrow, buses simply don’t halt anywhere close to the schools.

“For the past three days, the BMTC bus to Jaraganhalli on Kanakpura Road has not stopped in front of our school. My mother has been punishing me for returning late,” lamented Suhas, a 4th grade student of the Basavangudi Primary and Secondary School.

Several students commute daily from Kanakapura Road and beyond to the schools and colleges in Basavangudi. From Government PU college to primary and secondary schools to private institutions like the BMS Women's college and APS primary and secondary school, Basavanagudi has a high density of these institutions. Most of the students now face this daily public transport challenge.

The bus stops are now likely to be shifted to either ends of the Tagore Circle underpass. This, the students fear, would only add more woes to their lives. “Where should we catch the bus then” wondered Rajesh, a student from the APS college.

‘There is no respect for public opinion’

‘There is no respect for public opinion’
Bangalore: Oct 29, DHNS:

"There is no respect for public opinion," this lament by Manjula, a resident of Mani Vilas apartment in Basavanagudi, echoed the sentiment of a majority of those now forced to endure the mess created by the Tagore Circle underpass work.

For, the voice of the people was apparently the least heard in the run up to the vehicular underpass project, now being built by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).
Vasant Madhav, a resident of Mani Vilas recalled that in 2007, during the coalition government’s regime, a foundation stone was laid for the construction of an underpass moving from B P Wadia Road into Gandhi Bazaar. “But now they have changed the alignment. What is the point of creating an underpass in this direction along Basavangudi Police Station,” wondered Madhav.

Basavanagudi residents complained to Deccan Herald that the BBMP and the State Government had completely overlooked the process of holding consultation with the general public. “On Sunday morning, when I came out of my apartment, I was confronted by this entirely dug up road in front of the apartment,” recalled Ramapriyan, manager of the Sovereign Park Apartment opposite Basavanagudi police station.

The discontent among the area residents has been so widespread that almost 90 percent of them were categorical that the underpass should have had no place at Tagore Circle. “The underpass will definitely ruin the street. The trees that have been around for so many years and providing green cover will be lost forever,” rued B T A Rao, Secretary, Sovereign Park Apartments Association.

Echoing his view was Chaya Shanbhag, who said: “The trees along this stretch are among the primary elements that preserve the charm of this street. If they go, then we lose the beauty of this road,” said Shanbhag.

While the road, according to most, was unnecessary, what came as a further shock was the chaos the dug-up road triggered within the first three days. The residents are now forced to live with hitherto unheard of traffic jams even during non-peak hours, unprotected trenches and open Storm Water Drains.

Residents are now convinced that the Tagore Circle may very well leave yet another mark of the disorganised and ad-hoc attitude of civic authorities in Bangalore. “They destroyed the National College Circle to construct the Basavanagudi flyover. Now, the underpass, once completed, will emulate the same fate as that of the flyover which sees only 10 cars ply on it every day,” said Madhav, sarcastically.

16 trees to be axed for project

16 trees to be axed for project
Bangalore: Oct 29, DHNS:

Even as more than 200 trees face axe for Metro project on Dr Ambedkar Veedhi, a similar fate is staring as many as 16 trees for the work on Rabindranath Tagore Circle underpass in Basavangudi.

While the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) maintains that the project is sanctioned under Central government scheme and hence do not fall under the purview of the State regulations, the environmentalists say otherwise. They contend that construction of the underpass is itself a violation of the High Court ruling on felling of trees and encroachment of green space. The HC ruling on March 16, 2009 was in response to a PIL filed by green organisations.

Green activists contend that felling of trees and encroachment of green space must be in compliance with Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) and the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act (KTCP).

“Under the final notification of the CDP 2007, the Tagore Circle underpass project would amount to a gross violation of the KTCP Act and also a contempt of the HC,” explained Environmental Support Group (ESG) member, Leo Saldhana. The CDP has designated Rabindranath Tagore Circle as a “Green Space” and “Park Area” in Bangalore city.

Sanction not required

Palike officials however say that the Tagore Circle is being retained in its original form. Krishna Rao Park has not been acquired and neither felling of tress require any sanction. The underpass work has been taken up under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). “Hence, CDP approval is not at all required” argued Engineer-in-Chief, BBMP, A K Gopalaswamy.

In response to sustained media reports on the vehicular underpass, A Ravindra, Advisor to the Chief Minister, visited the Rabindranath Tagore Circle in Basavangudi to take stock of the on-going work. It is learnt that Ravindra will call for a meeting of all civic agencies in the coming week to discuss the matter.

Road-side vendors lifeline of MG Road

Road-side vendors lifeline of MG Road

Bangalore: It’s hard to imagine MG Road sans the imitation jewellery, chappal shops and books strewn on the footpath for as less as Rs 20. Weekends seem incomplete without taking a stroll on the lanes, stopping at each of these way-side vendors and bargaining with them for that cute piece of earring that caught your eyes.
Around 15 to 20 vendors occupy the prime spots on the footpath along MG Road, thereby leaving little space for the pedestrians. Some of them claim they have been in the same spot for 40 years now. It is a full-time business for these Bangaloreans and, mostly, the only source of income for their families.
Naturally, none of them have an authorization from the BBMP. Most of them keep shifting their goods and hide them when either the police or BBMP patrol the streets. “There is a shed down the lane where we hide our goods when any problem arises. At night, we keep them in the basement of an apartment and the night guard keeps an eye over them,” said U Sathyan, a junk jewellery vendor, who has been running his shop there for the past 20 years. Some of them even claim to have bought the space as they have been here for many generations now! Others who are comparatively new in the business pay the maamool to the police. “We give around Rs 300 to the cops each day. Otherwise they take away our goods and we get them back only if we pay Rs 500,” said Salman Syed, who sells T-shirts on Brigade Road.
Most of them start by selling goods on the pavement. As the business grows, they set up movable stands. Though business has been running a little cold now, thanks to Metro work, MG Road is still a preferred spot as it remains busy the whole day.
“We have been receiving complaints from pedestrians that there is no enough space to walk on the footpath. A drive is already on to remove these vendors. The clearance is happening one by one all over the city. But it should be a regular process; otherwise they cannot be removed completely,” said Venkatraman Naik, additional commissioner, BBMP (east).
BBMP has also made it clear that they will not provide alternative arrangements for these vendors. “There are too many of them in Bangalore. It is not possible to accommodate all of them elsewhere,” he said.

Kalasipalya bus stand gets BREATHING SPACE

Kalasipalya bus stand gets BREATHING SPACE
BBMP bulldozes 118 commercial set-ups and hutments

Bangalore: After Sultanpet, it was the long line of commercial small shops at the ever-busy and dilapidated Kalasipalya bus stand. Nearly 118 small commercial establishments around the bus stand and the hutments within were brought down by the BBMP on Thursday.
These small shops were almost 40 years old. The BBMP had leased them to the traders here for a 30-year period. However, almost all of them continued even after the end of the term. “It’s been a long wait for them to evacuate. Now, it’s two-three years post the lease period. We also had a series of meetings with the trade association here and also issued them a notice six months ago. Apart from the old temple here, we are demolishing all other shops. The recovered land is to remodel the existing bus stand. Once the demolition is complete, we will look into the feasibility of the same. The details of the project will be finalized depending on it,” explained one of the BBMP engineers on the spot.
Congested and seriously in need of a face-lift, the age-old bus stand at Kalasipalya is almost two to three times bigger than the one at Shivajinagar. But the increasing encroachments and lack of maintenance in the past had left it with very little space.
The demolition drive has now cleared nearly four-and-a-half acres of land here. Soon, the BBMP plans to remodel it into a hi-tech bus stand.
According to BBMP engineers, the Stup Consultants has been appointed for the design. The feasibility report for the project has also been submitted to the commissioner for approval. “The exact details of the project including the cost is yet to be finalized,” they said.
The demolition drives have long been part of a growing Bangalore. The infrastructure projects apart, the twin big brothers BDA and BBMP have also been in continuous action on the demolition front.
October has been a busy month for demolition work for both the agencies. On an average, there’s been at least one demolition every alternate day. Sometimes, even two a day.
The BDA has had 15 major demolition drives this year. Almost eight of these happened in close succession this month. Interestingly, they’ve recovered properties worth anywhere between Rs 2 crore and Rs 250 crore, the demolition at J P Nagar 8th Phase on Wednesday being their latest and the biggest catch so far. Incidentally, way back in 2001, they had recovered a total 21 acre 33 guntas worth Rs 51.1 crore. Even in 2008-09, it was 20 acre 17 guntas worth Rs 235.89 crore. But this month, a single catch topped this figure.
“We have been into demolition and recovery process since 2001. However, with most of our pending cases just cleared recently, we have our hands full with demolition work. Many of these litigations have been pending for last 6-20 years,” a BDA spokesperson told TOI.
Meanwhile, the BBMP’s demolition toll has not been less either. In October itself, it tackled almost 60 encroachments on storm-water drains. This, excluding those in east zone. The latest one at Kalasipalya was more a case of commercial complexes and finding space for projects.

Wait over, HC clears decks for BBMP polls

Wait over, HC clears decks for BBMP polls

Bangalore: The long wait for the muchdelayed elections of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is finally over with the Karnataka High Court on Thursday clearing the decks.
The final roadblock was the July 21 roster guidelines. The roster was stayed earlier, but the high court on Thursday upheld the same. It asked the respondents — government and the BBMP — to comply with the September 17 order of the high court that had asked the government to strictly adhere to the timetable the Election Commission had fixed.
The court had, on September 17, directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to announce the calendar of events on or before October 23. Now, with the HC upholding the guidelines, the election process can be continued. The seven city municipal corporations, one town municipal corporation and 110 villages around Bangalore and the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, that has been without an elected body since 2006, can now heave a sigh of relief. Justice H N Nagamohana Das, who heard a couple of petitions challenging the notification, observed that the guidelines were specific, rational and practicable in the path of achieving social justice.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Green card for autos is here

Green card for autos is here
Only 4-Stroke Vehicles Welcome
Deepa Bhasthi | TNN

Bangalore: What the state does not want will, in all probability, be passed on to other states. The two-stroke autorickshaws in stock (about 500), after the transport department ordered their gradual phasing out from Karnataka’s roads, are likely to be diverted for sale to other states by the dealers.
In what is likely to have longterm environmental implications, the Karnataka state transport department has notified that no new autos with twostroke engines will henceforth be registered in the state.
The August notification ordered that only those autos which are fitted with four-stroke engines will be registered.
Transport officials said there are around 500 such autos in stock in the state. About 50% of these have been temporarily registered, meaning that the transport department has to accommodate them and permanently register them.
The average life of an auto being anywhere between 10-15 years, the existing autos will eventually be phased out. The issue remains, however, as to what the dealers are to do with the existing stock of two-stroke engine autos.
While they are learnt to have given representations to the government as to what could be done, it is believed that there is no way but to divert the stock to be sold in other states.
Further issues complicate the smooth transition from polluting autos to green vehicles, that the department had expected. The major one is, of course, the green paint issue which was also at the heart of a recent auto strike in the city.
Transport commissioner Bhaskar Rao told The Times of India that four-stroke autos would have to be further painted green to identify them as environmentally-friendly vehicles. The day-long strike resulted in the government giving the drivers a year’s extension of deadline to paint the autos green.
This apart, 13 cities in the state will have to have fourstroke engine autos along with LPG fitment.
The rest need to mandatorily have only four-stroke autos, nuances of the government order that unions and auto drivers are getting confused over. The cities include Bangalore, Mysore, Davanagere, Gulbarga, Dharwad, Puttur and Udupi.
A two-stroke engine auto is sold at Rs 1.10 lakh while an auto fitted with four-stroke engine costs Rs 13,000 more.
Karnataka is the first state in the country to take a step in making autos more environmentally friendly.

BDA bulldozers plough on

BDA bulldozers plough on
Record Of Sorts: Takes Back 44 Acres, 15 Guntas Worth Rs 250 Cr

Bangalore: The Bangalore Development Authority on October 25 recovered 44 acres and 15 guntas of its land worth Rs 250 crores in a major land-recovery operation in Kothnur village of Bangalore South taluk.
This is a record of sorts in the BDA’s history in terms of the extent of area recovered and also the value of the property. Moreover, the BDA has created another record in recovering property worth around Rs 415 crore in five separate operations conducted in the last 22 days. With the operation, the value of the property recovered from April 2008 till date exceeded Rs 1,000 crores. In the past 21 months, the BDA has recovered property worth Rs 1,053 crores.
The authority had notified the acquisition of 58 acres and 11 guntas of land in survey number 87 of Kothnur Village, Utharahalli Hobli, Bangalore South taluk to form JP Nagar 8th phase extension. The preliminary notification for land acquisition was issued in 1988 and the final notification in 1994. The land was handed over to engineering section in 1994.
However, a few people and certain institutions have laid claim to the land and engaged in a long legal battle. Several cases involving the 44 acres 21 guntas of land were decided in the favour of the BDA. The authority initiated action to recover this land by removing 10 temporary sheds and a compound wall and also felled a eucalyptus grove grown in an area of about 7 acres. It is estimated that the recovered land will yield 660 sites.
Of the remaining land in the same survey number, action has been taken to renotify 10 acres of land for acquisition as per the court’s directions .
BDA employed 20 JCB machines, power saws and more than 100 staff to clear the eucalyptus grove. The operation was conducted under the leadership of the superintendent of police of the BDA task force, estate officer, BDA, engineer officer-1, deputy conservator of forests, land acquisition officer, executive engineer, south division along with the active cooperation of the local police.
The BBMP is conducting a raid against encroachments in West zone. At Sultanpet Main Road, 21 shops on a drain were razed. The drive will continue for 15 days.


Skywalks. Escalators. Pedestrian subways. All built in a day. But with improper planning. Team TOI finds that Bangalore’s ‘walkability index’ is less than 1
A T Subrahmanya & Aarthi R | TNN

Although pedestrian underpasses are built in a day on narrow roads — even with a ‘widened’ outlook — it’s still difficult to cross Race Course Road
One can’t walk across the recently ‘beautified’ K R Circle at peak hours. Less said the better about older and untouched roads such as Old Madras Road, Residency Road and Museum Road
Promenade Road near Coles Park is one of the oldest and busiest ‘well-built’ roads, with nearly 23 schools and five churches nearby. But with missing concrete slabs, bad lighting, encroachment and chaotic traffic, the road has become a ‘pedestrian unfriendly’ zone
Pedestrians on Residency Road and roads in Indiranagar shy away using skywalks. Reason: it’s easier to wait and run across rather than taking the stairs, especially for senior citizens
It’s good we are now into elevated pedestrian crossings. But the age-old practice of crossing roads at the ancient, flat zebra crossings is still complicated.
There are close to 40,000 junctions in Bangalore — 350 of them being major junctions with signal support. But 5,000 junctions are problematic and need to be manned constantly. Every junction has at least three to five roads. The Indian Roads Congress (IRC) makes it mandatory for roads at junctions to have zebra crossings. These should be maintained regularly and integrated with pedestrian signals, including clearly visible illumination. But in some places, we found that either the zebra stripes were missing or the street lights were malfunctioning at night.
Interestingly, these mandatory slant stripes with strict specifications of width have turned straight and broader at many junctions.At some places, they are getting better as elevated pedestrian crossings.
At busy junctions near K R Puram tin factory, zebra crossings have faded and speeding vehicles have erased the lines over time. It’s strange that even today, few people use the pedestrian underpasses below the bridge.
“It takes 15 to 30 minutes to cross this road. We cannot send children alone, fearing the traffic. Despite the signals and a policeman at the junction, we have to wave our hands frantically to incoming vehicles to ask them to stop. Then we cross the road,” says Saroja, a resident nearby.
Technically, flyovers and vehicular underpasses are closed for pedestrians, but we see it a regular in the city.
A minimum width of 7 metres for vehicles and 1.5 metre for pedestrians should be provided below the flyover.
Even underpasses should have a 1.5 metre set aside for pedestrians. This space for
pedestrians is missing at
many areas.
According to road experts in the city, the problem is neither funds nor technology with pedestrian infrastructure. “It’s more to do with improper planning and implementation, followed by irregular maintenance,” explains M N Sreehari, traffic expert and ABIDe member.
According to additional commissioner of police (traffic) Praveen Sood, wear and tear of roads is nearly five times more at junctions. “At least 60% people killed in accidents are pedestrians. There is hardly any infrastructure available for them to safely cross roads at many places. There is a slight disadvantage in policy for pedestrians as most road policies are concerned with motorists,” he points out.
On many junctions not having zebra crossings or having them regularly painted, he explained, “We have painted zebra crossings wherever the roads are good. The paint won’t last if road quality is bad. In fact, the paint remains unfaded for at least two years on good roads and hardly a year on bad ones.”
‘Not friendly to pedestrians’
Is Bangalore safe, clean and comfortable for pedestrians, for example, if they have to walk to the nearest bus stop? The answer is no. Even after spending crores on building flyovers, underpasses and road-widening work, the plight of pedestrians has not improved. However, BBMP has taken up some pilot projects in consultation with ABIDe. These are model roads with wide, clean and safe sidewalks and pedestrian crossings
What’s in it for pedestrians Zebra crossings at traffic signals Road dividers Underpasses Skywalks
Walkability index A higher walkability index reflects better pedestrian facilities in the city concerned. According to a study commissioned by the MoUD, Bangalore is ranked 12th among 30 sampled cities, with a walkability index of 0.63. The study raises concerns over pedestrian infrastructure, amenities and services sidelined during the urban planning process According to a policy paper on pedestrian movement in Bangalore Metropolitan Region (BMR) commissioned by BMLTA, foot over-bridges and subways are not successful
Why pedestrian infrastructure is bad Difficulty in negotiating the levels, in case of subways and skywalks Poor lighting and hygienic conditions Perceived lack of security Not located on the desired line of movement Lack of awareness by users Poor design and detailing
Various pedestrian skywalks and subways in the city are not fully utilized due to the above reasons.

Up, up and BEYOND

Up, up and BEYOND
Buildings Can Scale 100 Storeys Around The Airport, Say New Rules
S Kushala | TNN

Bangalore: Devanahalli, which is emerging as the Aerotropolis — airport city — can now have skyscrapers going up 100 storeys. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Union ministry of civil aviation have stretched the vertical limit around Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) from 150 metres to 300 metres, within a radius of 20 km.
A new rule that’s been implemented from June, it has caught the local area planning authority — Bangalore International Airport Area Planning Authority (BIAAPA) — unawares. The authority is still sticking to its rule book, which puts the maximum height at 25 metres around the airport.
The regulation, which kicked in for all major airports across the country, came through after builders petitioned the ministry to increase the height around airports as commercial and residential ventures in the vicinity have proved to be good business.
In May, the AAI notified that buildings within a radius of 20 km from the airport can go up to a maximum height of 300 metres, which means roughly 100 floors. The Union civil aviation ministry has also notified that the airports will have to issue NoCs based on the new rules. Certain parameters have been fixed for the heights, based on the distance from runways, and landing and take-off paths.
Aerotropolis is a relatively new concept, where a self-sustained town emerges around the airport with hospitality industry, commercial ventures and also residential enclaves. Here too, around BIA, the realty sector was buzzing with activity when the airport was commissioned, till the market crash last year. Several big projects have been lined up with the government proposing to create business parks.
The civil aviation ministry had constituted a committee to review the height restrictions in tune with the norms of the International Civil Aviation Organization, before making the changes.
BIAAPA’s zonal regulations has capped the building height around the airport at 25 metres. And as per rules, any structure in the airport vicinity has to get an NoC from Air Traffic Control (ATC) officials. The revised regulations of AAI has not yet been communicated to the BIAAPA.
“We have no inkling about the new regulations. As far as we know, the limit is 25 metres, for which the airport authorities have to issue the NoC. There is no communication from AAI about the increased height,’’ said BIAAPA officials.
On the other hand, BIAAPA is also hassled that an NoC is required from ATC for every construction in the vicinity. “We have brought this issue to BMRDA. Beyond a certain height, it’s fair to apply the NoC clause. Not for every small building,’’ the officials explained.
THE RELAXATION Distance from runways
Building 100 metres in height: 1.2 km 150 m in height: 1.5 km 200 m high: 1.9 km 300 m high: 2.6 km
Distance from take-off and landing paths
200-m high: 4.5 km away 300-m high: 6.5 km
BUILDERS HAPPY This new amendment will help make vertical progress in terms of tall buildings. It will effectively help in using the available floor area ratio, which was difficult to achieve after leaving the setbacks around the buildings. This policy also makes the rules clear for building heights around BIA, which was ambiguous till now
TALLER, HIGHER Devanahalli, which is emerging as the Aerotropolis — airport city — can now have skyscrapers going up 100 storeys A new rule has been implemented from June, which has caught the local area planning authority — Bangalore International Airport Area Planning Authority — unaware In May, the AAI notified that buildings within a radius of 20 km from the airport can go up to a maximum height of 300 metres, which means roughly 100 floors



How can we safeguard our parks? How can we influence the administration to ensure that these enclaves are preserved for future generations as well? DNA's Bosky Khanna answers these FAQs

Bosky Khanna

Open your eyes, and look around you. It's difficult to find open spaces easily in our city, which once proudly boasted of being the Garden City of India.
What we need are parks for people to move about, relax, and take deep breaths of fresh air at leisure. Unfortunately, our city is gradually offering lesser and lesser of it.
The hope lies in having at least 15 per cent of each layout as park area, which the town planning rules state as optimal space for residents in their respective localities.
The Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) 2015 also states that at least one-third of Bangalore should be green, not necessarily parks.
Parks are different from greenery, mere open spaces and fancy lawns. But these spaces are often confused with parks.
A park must have natural aesthetic value, and should provide eco-elements to generate good breathable air with the ability to trap suspended particulate matter and release quality oxygen. There should be adequate space for people to walk around. The flora in a park should be a combination of climbers, creepers, shrubs, herbs, trees and grass—not mere lawns. They have the capability to generate fresh air (good-quality moisture, oxygen, and air that is free from suspended particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Water bodies may also be developed within them.
That's why, while the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain and Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium areas can be designated as parks, Race Course and Golf Course are not; they are lawns, though they are lung spaces too.
A Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) official points out that as per the Comprehensive Development Plan, of Bangalore's total area of 1,219.5 sq km, 90.69 sq km should be maintained as parks and open spaces.
But that is not being done in face of an increasing demand for vacant spaces for residential and commercial buildings.
Though there is still hope and time, Vanamitra volunteer Harsha M feels that the way things are going, only 100 parks would remain in Bangalore. Therefore, a lot more needs to be done.
"Trees are the pillars of Bangalore. But today, they have become advertisement boards in parks and are infected with mushroom and disease. Mushroom seeds are in the air, and they enter trees through pores and scratches and gradually kill them," he says.
Noted environmentalist and retired forest official AN Yellappa Reddy says: "It is not that there are no rules, but there is no inclination. The officials admit that there is a dearth of funds and staff to maintain parks. As a result, low-cost maintenance solutions have been incorporated, which have led to degradation of most of the existing parks in Bangalore. Pesticides, insecticides and low-quality fertilizers are being used," says Reddy. "What we need is expertise and imagination. They should be sensitive towards the needs of a green belt and plant hardy tree species in the parks to increase biodiversity. The city needs more tree parks rather than mere lawns which consume a lot of water, and pollute underground water and air," he adds.
Only five per cent of the existing parks are in good shape in HSR Layout, Banashankari, and Basavanagudi-Jayanagar (the Laxman Rao Park is losing out to Metro work). Sadashivanagar Park and Sankey Park, in Bangalore West, are also ideal examples of citizens' initiatives to rejuvenate parks.
According to retired forest official SG Neginhal (he's the man who planted 15 lakh tree saplings along city roadsides to make Bangalore green), the old gardens-and-parks culture cannot be got back in totality.
With land prices soaring, maximum amount of space is being utilised for meeting basic needs like parking, he feels.
Says Neginhal: "Inadequate planning is the root cause for the loss of green cover and poor maintenance of parks. It is sad to see the plants which I planted being cut in front of my eyes for widening roads, constructing offices and houses. We have already lost many lakes. The government should at least maintain parks for children and senior citizens."
He suggests: "At least one-third of each layout's area should be maintained as parks. This is the only way to restore lost greenery. But it all depends upon the administration and the will of the people. Instead of being merely emotional, people should come out with practical solutions to urge the government to create and maintain existing ones, as in the case of Freedom Park and Race Course. In today's world, money is money plant for bureaucrats and politicians."
Fortunately, Bangalore already has existing parks in several localities. Only that these need to be upgraded and maintained with citizens' will.
Several resident welfare associations have already shown the way by rejuvenating parks, and these have set examples for the rest.
Says Neginhal: "With the willingness of MLAs and MPs healthy parks can be created in wards and spaces the members represent; if it works, 20 years from now, Bangalore will certainly be greener than today."
In Banashankari, for instance, a few parks are being maintained by some private organisations. They are designated parks for people to walk, and for children to play.
According to BBMP joint director (horticulture), A Narayanaswamy, there are 916 open spaces in our city, of which 644 are parks of all sizes, excluding water bodies. These are well maintained and utilised by people. Apart from this, the BBMP is developing 21 parks across the city.
"There is no problem in creating and maintaining parks as funds are available," says Narayanaswamy. If anything, that should make more parks available for Bangalore—at least in intent.

City roads look to tax as a solution to cut congestion

City roads look to tax as a solution to cut congestion

Motorists may soon have to pay a tax to take their
vehicles into the central business district areas

Shwetha S. Bangalore

As city roads remain perpetually congested, the transport department mulls the introduction of a tax as a measure to reduce congestion and gain additional revenue, while also tackling pollution.
The number of vehicles added to the city each day has been steadily increasing each year. The proposal is to introduce a 'congestion tax' in the city's Central Business District (CBD). A final decision on its introduction will be taken by the government.
Official sources at the Road Transport Office said that a survey conducted recently had indicated that there are nodal points in the city where traffic converges each day, causing bottlenecks. The plan is thus to tax those who use their vehicles in these areas. A source said that a survey conducted in 2006 found that nearly 6 lakh vehicles ply in the CBD each day.
The proposal is to tax all vehicles entering the CBD. Anyone wishing not to pay the tax will be provided the facility of parking outside the CBD, so that he or she can then take public transport.
The plan is also to build multi-storey buildings in the vicinity of the CBD that will allow parking space for all those vehicles whose owners would like to avoid the tax. Residents in the CBD area who use their vehicles here frequently will be allowed the opportunity to pay the tax once a month.
Officials opine that the revenue thus generated could help in contributing to the improvement of the city's infrastructure. The survey of 2006 had shown that Trinity Circle, Cauvery Theatre Road, West of Chord Road and Banashankari witnessed the densest flow of traffic each day — all of these fall in the CBD.
Although the transport department will be proposing the introduction of this tax, a call on whether or not it should be imposed will be taken by the government.
A more detailed analysis of surveys undertaken will be done before a final decision is arrived at--a survey conducted by the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore had also made estimates about the flow of vehicles in different parts of the city, and this too will be studied.

City roads look to tax as a solution to cut congestion

City roads look to tax as a solution to cut congestion

Motorists may soon have to pay a tax to take their
vehicles into the central business district areas

Shwetha S. Bangalore

As city roads remain perpetually congested, the transport department mulls the introduction of a tax as a measure to reduce congestion and gain additional revenue, while also tackling pollution.
The number of vehicles added to the city each day has been steadily increasing each year. The proposal is to introduce a 'congestion tax' in the city's Central Business District (CBD). A final decision on its introduction will be taken by the government.
Official sources at the Road Transport Office said that a survey conducted recently had indicated that there are nodal points in the city where traffic converges each day, causing bottlenecks. The plan is thus to tax those who use their vehicles in these areas. A source said that a survey conducted in 2006 found that nearly 6 lakh vehicles ply in the CBD each day.
The proposal is to tax all vehicles entering the CBD. Anyone wishing not to pay the tax will be provided the facility of parking outside the CBD, so that he or she can then take public transport.
The plan is also to build multi-storey buildings in the vicinity of the CBD that will allow parking space for all those vehicles whose owners would like to avoid the tax. Residents in the CBD area who use their vehicles here frequently will be allowed the opportunity to pay the tax once a month.
Officials opine that the revenue thus generated could help in contributing to the improvement of the city's infrastructure. The survey of 2006 had shown that Trinity Circle, Cauvery Theatre Road, West of Chord Road and Banashankari witnessed the densest flow of traffic each day — all of these fall in the CBD.
Although the transport department will be proposing the introduction of this tax, a call on whether or not it should be imposed will be taken by the government.
A more detailed analysis of surveys undertaken will be done before a final decision is arrived at--a survey conducted by the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore had also made estimates about the flow of vehicles in different parts of the city, and this too will be studied.


Call it positive contagion. On Wednesday morning, yet another city auto driver chose to return the bag a passenger left behind in his auto. Except, that he wanted to hand over the bag to its owner not in a police station but in the Bangalore Mirror office!

Forget something in an auto and consider it gone forever. But, as Sreelathadevi Amma, a native of Kottayam in Kerala, discovered in the city on Wednesday, there can be exceptions. Anthony Raj, a 35-year-old auto driver from Rajarajeshwarinagar, promptly decided to return a bag containing cash close to Rs 10,000, seven credit cards, banks documents, educational certificates and personal documents that Sreelathadevi had left behind in Anthony’s auto.
On Wednesday morning, Anthony walked into Bangalore Mirror’s office in Chamarajpet and handed over the bag to its owner. Anthony who previously handed over forgotten articles back to their owners through the police was not happy with the way the system worked. “I was not happy with the way they were delivered back to owners. I have been reading Bangalore Mirror and its reports about good auto drivers’ efforts. So I thought Bangalore Mirror was the best channel to hand over the bag. Other drivers in my autorickshaw stand too advised the same. I immediately informed the owner of the bag too to come to Bangalore Mirror’s office in Chamarajpet,” Anthony said.
Sreelathadevi had come down to the city a week ago to secure admission for her daughter in a city-based ayurveda college. Work done, on Tuesday evening, she was preparing to go back to Kottayam and decided to go shopping near Forum Mall in Koramangala. “On Tuesday night I was scheduled to leave for Kottayam and I thought let me do a little bit of shopping before leaving. Along with a couple of relatives, we hired an auto to Forum Mall in Koramangala. At around 5:00 pm we got down near Star Bazar near Forum Mall,” she told Bangalore Mirror. “But only on entering the mall did I realise that I had forgotten my bag containing cash, credit cards bank documents, bank locker keys and, most importantly, the defence card of my husband. I almost collapsed and soon rushed to Adugodi police and filed a complaint,” she added.
In the meantime, auto driver Anthony, who dropped Sreelathadevi at Forum Mall, picked up another passenger and left to KHB Colony. “While dropping the passenger at KHB Colony, he alerted me about the bag,” said Anthony. On reaching home at Ramohalli near Rajarajeshwarinagar, Anthony and his wife searched the bag for the lady’s address, only to discover that all the identity cards had a postal address but no telephone numbers. “But at last in one of the pouches inside the bag we found a visiting card of Mutthoot Jewelleries and on it the lady’s name and contact number. Immediately - it was 11:00 pm then - I called up the lady and informed her about the safe custody of bag and assured her that I would return it the next morning,” he added.
For Sreelathadevi, it was almost like a miracle. It was like a divine intervention. “I could not understand what he was telling as he was speaking in Kannada and Tamil. But I heard something about my lost bag and I handed over the phone to my relatives who knew Kannada. Generally, no auto driver would return anything. But this driver was so different,” she said.
It was not the first time that Anthony Raj returned goods he has found in his auto. On four previous occasions he has done so. “What I earn is more than enough for my family to live. I don’t want an extra paisa,” Anthony, who was studying BA in Christ College but dropped out due to family problems, said. Appreciating Anthony’s honesty, Sreelathadevi’s family gave him Rs 1,000.

BDA recovers 44 acres

BDA recovers 44 acres
Bangalore: Oct 28, DHNS

In one of the biggest anti-encroachment drive in the City, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) on Wednesday recovered property worth over Rs 250 crore.

In an early morning drive, the BDA demolished unauthorised constructions on 44 acres of land at Kothnur village in Bangalore South.

With this clearance of the encroachments, the BDA has now recovered property worth over Rs 415 crore in the past 22 days.

The land in Kothnur village, which was under litigation for the past 23 years, will now be utilised for formation of J P Nagar 8th phase layout. The preliminary notification for the layout was issued in 1988 and the final notification in 1994.

With a series of legal battles by private individuals and institutions, the BDA was unable to proceed any further. In the recovered land, 660 sites of various dimensions could be formed.

CM seeks report

In the evening, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa directed the officials to submit a detailed report on future plans to clear encroachments on government land.

Of the available 1,22,998 acres of government land, 36,877 acres were encroached upon in Bangalore Urban district. Of this, 9,030 acres have been recovered and 3,683 acres of land has been auctioned. The officials have been instructed to clear the rest of the encroachments and solve the matters at the courts.


Though the government was to get Rs 559 crore from auctioning of the land, it has so far received only Rs 246 crore.

The government has regularised encroachments on 269 acres. Also, the government has received 8,334 more applications for regularisation.

The Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) is tackling the issue of lands having fabricated documents.

Problems galore for Samruddhi Layout residents

Problems galore for Samruddhi Layout residents
Bangalore: Oct 28, DHNS:

There seems to be no respite for the residents of Samruddhi Layout in Padmanabhanagar from the sewerage water inundating their streets and the foul stench it brings along.

The residents have been facing this problem for the past three months. Everyday, the people here wake up to the foul smell and the streets, which are filled with sewerage water. Needless to say that life has become a hell for them.

The woes of these residents began when the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) embarked upon constructing a storm water drain (SWD) in the area, early this year. “In order to construct the storm water drain, the sewerage pipe that was located at the same place, had to be broken to divert the flow of water elsewhere. This was to ensure that the sewerage water and the storm water do not get mixed. Unfortunately, the project was halted just after the sewerage pipe was broken, thus pushing the sewerage water backwards, leaving the residents to bear with the affects of a unaccomplished task,” said one of the residents.

Empty promises

Frustrated residents had pursued the matter with MLA Krishnappa and also BBMP Commissioner Bharath Lal Meena. Apart from empty promises, the project was never completed. “The MLA claimed that he had approached the BBMP but in vain,” said another resident. It is alleged that the BBMP had cited ‘lack of funds’ as the reason for not completing the works.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, the authorities of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) explained that the problem was of a serious nature and it was ready to fix it in a week’s time. And that was possible only if the BBMP completed its work.
“We are in no position to help the residents. As long as the BBMP drags on with the work, it is not possible to replace the sewerage pipe,” said the BWSSB official.
Meanwhile, the BBMP in its defence has said that the higher up authorities had dispatched a ‘strongly-worded’ letter to the engineer in-charge of the zone. “The engineer has assured us that he will complete the work in the next four days,” informed a Palike official.

A passage to nowhere

A passage to nowhere
Bangalore: Oct 28, DHNS:

It may very well be history repeating itself. The underpass coming up near Tagore Circle in Basavangudi promises to be another motorists’ nightmare like the one at Cauvery theatre junction. Once ready, commuters will have to negotiate needless twists and turns to reach their destinations.

For commuters coming from National College, it would be nothing short of a circus to enter Bugle Rock Road via MSR Service Station, as also for those travelling from Padmanabhanagar towards BP Wadia Road. The service roads along the underpass do not allow any free right turns and commuters have to negotiate the whole stretch and come back to the point to take a turn.

“People coming from National College will have to go up to the Basavanagudi post office and then take a U-turn to go onto the road in front of MSR Service Station,” said an engineer with the BBMP.

The service roads at Tagore Circle are narrower compared to those at Mekhri Circle. This is one of the many reasons that make the underpass unfeasible.

In 2007, when the project was designed by the H D Kumaraswamy government, the local residents opposed it vehemently and the project did not take off. A Kolkata-based firm STUP Infrastructure was awarded the work then. This time, another Kolkata-based firm Simplex construction company has taken up the work and expects to complete it in two years with an investment of Rs 19.5 crore.

‘Where do we walk?’

Residents fear that the underpass may cost the footpaths on Basavanagudi main road. “With heavy traffic slated to enter B P Wadia Road, to negotiate the right turn, we may see the beautiful trees and the already narrow footpaths disappear in the coming days.
Pedestrians have been completely forgotten,” rued Vikram Simha, resident of Basavanagudi. This apart, the alternative routes which are already narrow will become further congested as people try to enter Gandhi Bazaar and B P Wadia Road.

If beauty of the road which has lush green trees on both sides is one reason for residents to oppose the grade separator, the delays and the absence of any logic behind the very construction is another cause for worry and driving the residents to oppose the project.

now, give civic chief dope on his men

Now, give civic chief dope on his men
By: Chetan R Date: 2009-10-27 Place: Banglore

You can complain about inefficient officers, tardy progress of works and deficient services to Bharat Lal Meena when he visits your residential area or office district

Make sure you call Bharat Lal Meena, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner known for employing unusual methods to keep tabs on his staff, and tip him off on errant officials if you are not happy with any civic service.

Meena is set to don a new role from now on examiner of his officers' performance, with you as his most valuable aide in the endeavour.

Meena has undertaken an exercise to prepare his officers' progress report. He has already made his assistant executive engineers (AEEs) put down on paper the progress of various works they are in charge of. And he is asking residents to evaluate the claims made by the AEEs.

The steps taken by him are part of a larger plan to evaluate the performance of each and every officer in the BBMP.

"Officials were shocked as he distributed white sheets of paper during a review meet held recently," said Subramanya K, a civic control room official.

"He surprised them by asking them to put down on a piece of paper the progress they had made in executing works in their respective wards."

Progress report
Meena kicked off the exercise in the meeting held at the BBMP head office recently to review progress in infrastructure works across the city, including works such as laying roads, filling potholes and remodelling of storm water drains.

One of over 60 AEEs present at the meeting said the commissioner's exercise had taken them by surprise.

"We were not told about it earlier," said the officer, who requested anonymity. "The commissioner gave us blank sheets of paper and asked us to write in detail the progress each one of us had made in the recent past, for which we weren't prepared."

The AEE said that after they had done what the commissioner had asked, he dropped a bomb on them by saying their claims on works they had listed would now be evaluated by residents.

"After we were done, he asked us if we had been truthful," the AEE said. "Then he said the things we had put down would be evaluated by citizens from our respective wards."

Meena now plans to go to various civic wards in the city with the papers handed over to him by the AEEs and meet residents to take their inputs.

Doing rounds of city
The commissioner, who has made inspection of ongoing works a routine thing and constituted two teams for the purpose, one headed by him and the other by a special commissioner, will carry the 'answer papers' on his visits to various parts of the city.

He plans to go to marketplaces, residential areas and office districts of the city.

The officers' progress report will be prepared on the basis of the response people from various wards give vis-Ã -vis the statements of the officials.

The surprise initiative, which may put some officers in trouble, is aimed at increasing efficiency, as BBMP officials are often criticized for tardiness in execution of responsibilities. Besides, there are also charges of corruption from time to time.

"The cross-verification is being conducted to ensure works are completed in time," said S Khandre, public relations officer, BBMP.

"The commissioner is keen on efficiency, which has made him go for such a surprise initiative."

City to have another passport office

City to have another passport office

Special Correspondent
Seva kendras to be opened in three towns in the State
BANGALORE: There is good news for those seeking passports, especially from Karnataka. As part of the External Affairs Ministry’s ambitious programme of opening passport issuing offices and Seva Kendras in 167 cities all over the country, another passport issuing office will be opened in Bangalore on December 15 as a pilot project.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Wednesday said that the existing office of the Passport Officer will have a passport printing press on its premises, but it would not issue any passports.

He said the city would have one more passport issuing office.

Three passport seva kendras would be set up in Mangalore, Hubli and Gulbarga, which would also work like passport issuing offices but without any printing facility. The exact location of these centres will be announced shortly. Participating in a meet-the-press programme organised by the Press Club of Bangalore, Mr. Krishna said that each of the two offices in Bangalore would have 20 counters. It would have a photographic and finger printing facility.

It would have accommodation for 200 persons with a kiosk and water facility.

The other passport issuing office with these facilities as part of the pilot project would be opened at Jalandhar, the Lok Sabha constituency of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Adviser to the External Affairs Minister Raghavendra Shastry said that the services of Tata Consultancy Services had been roped in for streamlining collection of applications and their speedy processing.

Mr. Shastry said that the people would get passports within three days. The police concerned would be automatically informed and they could say yes or no by a mere click of the computer after verification. In six months, 25 per cent of the seva kendras would be upgraded and by 2010, all the small cities would have seva kendras, which would send queries and complaints to the central offices in the capital, he said.

Asked whether the G-8 Finance Ministers’ meeting would be held in cities other than in the West, Mr. Krishna said that it could be in Bangalore, Mumbai or New Delhi, as India was a member.

The venue need not be in a Western city only, Mr. Krishna said.

The Minister said that he would do his best to assist the countries, which were planning to open their consulates or Embassy office in Bangalore.

BBMP blames BWSSB for bad state of road

BBMP blames BWSSB for bad state of road

Staff Reporter
Commuters suffer as arterial stretches worsen by the day
— Photo: K. Gopinathan

DEVELOPMENT HINDRANCE: A stretch of the Old Madras Road near Ulsoor Gurudwara in Bangalore.
BANGALORE: Woes of residents of Old Madras Road continue as the potholes seem to be growing bigger and deeper by the day with no remedial measures being taken by the authorities concerned.

The stretch leading to the Ulsoor Gurudwara has taken a turn for the worse, forcing traffic to slow down. The road was made a two-way and a median was erected, constricting it and creating bottlenecks.

“A part of the road is always being dug up near the Madras Sapper’s gate and as the road has seen a sudden increase in traffic, one is sure to be stalled there,” says Vijay N., a frequent commuter.

The other badly maintained stretch is along the metro site. Apart from painfully slowing down traffic, especially during peak hours, the project appears to have contributed significantly to the road’s deterioration.

“With heavy transport vehicles [including those involved with the project such as bulldozers and cranes] at any given point through the day, it urgently needs to be given a facelift,” says Sudheendran, a resident of Indiranagar.

However, sources in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagra Palike (BBMP) attributed the state of affairs to constant works undertaken by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB). “They are laying water pipes in various parts of the road,” said a BBMP engineer.

He said the BWSSB work was crucial to ensure water supply to residences and places of worship on the road, which suffered some major pipe leaks. He said it would be better to asphalt the road after the BWSSB finished its work. “By next week, after all the pipes are laid, we will asphalt the road completely,” he said.

Garbage: BBMP moves court for vacating stay

Garbage: BBMP moves court for vacating stay

Staff Reporter
BANGALORE: The Bruhat BangaloreMahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Tuesday filed an application before the Karnataka High Court urging it to vacate a stay it had granted earlier on tenders for solid waste management in Bangalore which includes sweeping and cleaning the roads of Bangalore and transporting garbage.

A Division Bench headed by the Chief Justice last week stayed the tender on petitions by former corporators, M. Pari, Venkatsh and P.R. Ramesh. The petitioners had then contended that there was no elected body and that the tenders had been called for by the BBMP Administrator.

The former corporators had said that the Administrator had no right to call for tenders in the absence of an elected body.

The BBMP, in its application, has sought for vacating the stay.

MTS launches mobile services in Karnataka

MTS launches mobile services in Karnataka

Special Correspondent
BANGALORE: MTS, the mobile telephony brand of Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd. (SSTL), launched its service in Karnataka on Wednesday. The brand, which has been franchised to the company by the Russian conglomerate, Sistema, is the ninth operator to offer mobile telephony services in the State. SSTL is a joint venture between Sistema, Russia, and the Shyam Group, an Indian company that provides mobile telephony solutions.

Karnataka is the eighth circle in which MTS is operational.

No interim order on GKVK road: HC

No interim order on GKVK road: HC

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 29 Oct 2009 05:06:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 29 Oct 2009 07:24:31 AM IST
BANGALORE: The High Court has refused to pass an interim order on civil works regarding formation of the 9.2-km link road connecting Yeshwanthpur to Yelahanka through the University of Agricultural Sciences campus.
Hearing a petition filed by seven former vicechancellors and Environmental Support Group and others, the division bench headed by PD Dinakaran fixed December 11 as the final date for hearing.
The petitioners have claimed that the formation of the road would hamper research work, which could indirectly affect the food security of the country.
However, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike counsel KN Puttegowda argued that the formation of the road was completed, except asphalting, and that the road will help lakhs of commuters going to BIAL.
The formation of the road was opposed by the Board of Regents of UAS on May 29.
The petitioners had objected to the cutting of trees in the University of Agricultural Sciences campus.

Size does matter

Size does matter

Sharan PoovannaFirst Published : 29 Oct 2009 05:37:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 29 Oct 2009 07:16:22 AM IST
Traffic laws are violated every day in Bangalore and more surprising is that some of the laws under the Central Motor Vehicles Rules of 1989 are quite often ignored by the city’s Bobbies. Clear regulations on the size and specifications of licence plates to be displayed on vehicles are not being followed in the city.
Traffic police seldom check for these irregularities, though sometimes they fine the driver for unclear and illegible plates. Praveen Sood, ADGP Traffic, said that “number plates that are not friendly to note down are fined”. Other number plates that are not easy to decipher due to varied script writing, colour, size and reflective stickering among others are often penalized by the police, he said. He aslo added that this poses a problem when there is a hit and run case or other traffic violations and the number of the offender is hard to see.
Transport Commissioner, Bhaskar Rao said that “since registration plates are low value fine they are given low priority”. The transport department has very few officers who cannot afford to fine the motorists and it is the duty of the police to ensure that the rule is being followed, he said.
Registration plate painters and designers of the city say that they make the colour and design according to the customer’s request.
Narendra Jain, A lawyer in the city says, “I bought the car and it came with the number plates from the showroom, and if the dealer follows the rules then I automatically do, if not then I dont as well”. Sharath Srinivasan, a city-based techie said, “It is completely unacceptable that a rule is made and not being enforced”.
Michelle Rao said that she is not fully aware of the specifications but will adhere to it if the rules are made aware to the public”.

More drains get to flow easy in city

More drains get to flow easy in city

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 29 Oct 2009 05:08:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 29 Oct 2009 07:26:54 AM IST
BANGALORE: As part of its anti-encroachment drive, BBMP demolished five structures in Bandemata Layout near Kengeri.
BBMP started its drive early Wednesday morning and demolished all the structures including a commercial building and houses that had encroached upon a 30-foot-wide drain.
The sites on the ‘rajakaluve’ (primary canal) were meant for the development of parks, but a few illegal constructions had come up, encroaching upon the ‘rajakaluve’.
BBMP razed constructions that had come up on survey numbers 192 and 193 and recovered property approximately worth Rs 3 crore. The drive was carried out with co-ordination of local police. About 50 BBMP men were part of the team.
Residents alleged that there was no intimation from BBMP. Such sudden drives put them to inconvenience, they added.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hole in bridge halts vehicles for hours

Hole in bridge halts vehicles for hours
Traffic On Bannerghatta Road Affected

Bangalore: Horror struck office-goers on Tuesday morning with two-wheelers, cars, buses and trucks trying to sneak through a narrow space on a bridge above a storm water drain, causing traffic chaos on some parts of Bannerghatta Road. All this thanks to a huge hole dug on the bridge in Vinayakanagar near Adugodi on Bannerghatta Road.
According to traffic personnel, every thing was all right till Monday night. When the hole on the bridge appeared on Tuesday morning, the road connecting Bannerghatta Road with Hosur Road, leading to the central business district, was hit. The traffic police had partially closed the spot, covering it with barricades, which further narrowed the space.
According to the police, BBMP officials had told the traffic police that there was a small hole on the bridge and that they would start work on it. But the traffic police wanted some time for diversions, as it is one of the main connecting roads, with heavy vehicular movement.
Local residents say that even last year the bridge had caved in and they alleged that officials had just temporarily filled the gap. According to the police, the hole which appeared on Tuesday morning was not accidental but dug by somebody with an earth mover on Monday night.
The traffic police, who were caught off guard on Tuesday morning, were devising alternative routes. The hole was being filled on Tuesday evening.

Remove hurdles in way of BMIC project: SC

Remove hurdles in way of BMIC project: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday suggested that chief minister BS Yeddyurappa convene a high-level meeting for removing hurdles in implementation of the ambitious Rs750 crore Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project.
A bench of Justice Tarun Chatterjee, Justice RM Lodha and Justice Deepak Verma gave the suggestion while demanding a status report from the Karnataka government on the implementation of the project. The bench also wanted the state government to approach it with "appropriate application", possibly a transfer petition, to remove the hurdles in expeditious implementation of the project, in the form of lawsuits opposing it before the high court.
The bench gave the suggestion as the apex court in 2006 had already endorsed the legality of the project, involving building an expressway between Bangalore and Mysore with the provision to develop five township along it.
The bench gave these directions while hearing a petition by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE), which has sought contempt to court proceedings against seven state government officials for allegedly derailing the project and foiling its expeditious implementation despite an April 2006 order of the apex court. The project was originally conceived in 1997. —IANS

HC rebukes BBMP's flawed ward reservation norms

HC rebukes BBMP's flawed ward reservation norms

Srikanth Hunasavadi. Bangalore

The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday rebuked the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for making improper guidelines in fixing the reservation for the 198 wards.
"What kind of guidelines are these? They do not fulfill legal and constitutional requirements. If the BBMP cannot fix the reservation norms properly, the court will prepare the rotation and reservation chart," Justice HN Nagamohan Das strongly observed.
The court has directed the BBMP to file an affidavit on Wednesday in this regard, with details about the list of wards, percentage of SC/ST population and also the percentage of SC/ST women population.
Hearing the petitions filed by Ramakrishna Pai, K Devan and others, the court observed, "The division bench had set a deadline, but the process to conduct the BBMP polls has not commenced as yet."
Former mayor PR Ramesh has also filed an interlocutory application alleging that the government is purposefully delaying the elections.
The petitioner's counsel, Jayakumar S Patil, submitted that neither the Karnataka Municipal Corporation (KMC) Act, nor the Constitution permits the concept of importing of assembly constituencies. He submitted that the ward division is an artificial division of castes and communities, where only a handful of constituencies will benefit from the guidelines.
Patil added, "The guidelines stated that the reservation for SC/STs will be decided after taking into account the population in the 23 assembly constituencies that come under BBMP, with the wards having the highest SC/ST population reserved for SC/ST candidates."
However, under Article 243 (T) and Section 7 of the KMC Act, the BBMP area population should have been the basis for determining the reservation. "Also, BBMP has not considered the 1995 and 2001 reservations. All these mistakes seem to have been committed intentionally," Patil submitted.
The government guidelines issued on July 21 state that 91 wards are reserved for SC/ST and backward classes, with one-third representation for women. The remaining 107 wards are for general and women candidates. These reservations were made on the basis of the 2001 census figures that peg Bangalore's population at 65 lakh.

Underpass bypasses public opinion

Underpass bypasses public opinion
Bangalore, Oct 27, DHNS:

Despite mounting public opinion against an unnecessary underpass at the Rabindranath Tagore Circle in Basavanagudi, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has begun work at the spot.

Shattering the peace of the area, the entire stretch from Tagore Circle till Basavanagudi police station has been dug up over the last three days. All that remains for vehicles to pass through is a 25 feet wide road that allows movement from only one side.

The residents, who were not consulted before the project was taken up, are now left to endure the chaotic traffic, the trenches, dust and safety issues galore. “The civic agencies are just creating chaos. The idea is just an extension of the previous Basavangudi flyover fiasco.” This telling remark by a resident, Venkatram, summed up the public mood. Their troubles are apparently not going to end in a hurry, because the half-kilometre-long, 15-metre wide underpass will not be completed in another 18 months.

Barely three days into the road-digging work, the chaos had begun to tell.
On Tuesday, BMTC buses and other vehicles were found turning into BP Wadia Road and on the other side towards Gandhi Bazaar. Chaos prevailed at Prof Madhav Rao Circle as well. For decades, the residents lived in peace. Not anymore, it appeared.
Here’s why the dug-up road is a recipe for more chaos: Under this stretch runs one sanitary pipeline, five water lines, electric and telecom cables. To check the lines, the BBMP has dug trenches at every ten metres.

BWSSB in the dark

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) was caught unawares about the underpass construction. “We at the senior level have no information about this project. The BBMP is yet to approach us for shifting of the water and sanitary lines,” a top BWSSB official told Deccan Herald.

According to the Water Supply and Sewerage Board, four water lines ranging from 100 to 450 mm in diametre and a 225-mm sanitary line run below the proposed Tagore Circle underpass.

Any shifting of lines would mean at least a 15 to 25 day delay, since fresh tenders would have to be called.

The underpass project had been stalled for nearly three years due to opposition from the local leaders who seem to have vanished overnight.


An RTI filed by Bangalore Mirror revealed that the much-touted Rs 3,000 crore North-South-East elevated corridor, meant to considerably ease the city’s traffic problems, doesn’t even have a detailed project report

Transport Minister R Ashok and Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena have been repeatedly talking about a Rs 3,000 crore North-South-East Corridor (NSE) that doesn’t even exist on paper. The project got
Bangaloreans excited as it was supposed to significantly reduce their daily traffic woes. The duo had in fact claimed that a detailed project report (DPR) has been readied and work would kickstart shortly.
But the reality is different: No project report pertaining to the NSE Corridor has been prepared. Bangalore Mirror found this out by filing an application under the Right To Information (RTI) Act seeking a copy of the DPR.
At one point prior to our filing the RTI, the government had categorically stated that the DPR for the NSE project has been prepared under the Swiss Challenge method and was awaiting clearance from the Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure Development (ABIDe). When asked about the exact status of the DPR pertaining to the NSE project, BBMP Chief Engineer (major roads) Chikkarayappa said: “We haven’t prepared any DPR for the NSE corridor under Swiss Challenge. It was just a soft-drafted DPR and it has been rejected on technical grounds. Now we will be calling for a new proposal.” ELEVATED VIADUCT
Sources in BBMP maintained that the NSE Corridor was mooted as part of the Rs 22,000 crore Capital Investment Plan (2009-12) titled ‘Bangalore-Our Goal and Vision’, conceived ahead of the BBMP polls. The plan, which has several other mega infrastructure projects in its bouquet, will be executed under the public-private partnership (PPP) model with financial contributions from the Bangalore Development Authority and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
The NSE Corridor project envisaged a elevated viaduct linking the northern and southern parts of the city with the eastern side. While the North-South Corridor measured a distance of 16 kms (from Central Silk Board to Hebbal via Vellara Junction and Minsk Square), the Eastern connector is 12 kms (from Vellara Junction to Kundalahalli Junction via HAL Airport and Marathalli). The three elevated corridors were meant to strengthen arterial and sub-arterial roads.
Well, going by the way the government announced the NSE corridor project without having done any groundwork, the project is likely to remain a non-starter.
Elevated North-South corridor, cost Rs 1,800 crore
Elevated eastern connectivity corridor from Vellara Junction to Kundalahalli, cost Rs 1,200 cr
Deadline to complete the project, 2012
Now, project has been scrapped

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Freedom Park set to house jail museum

Freedom Park set to house jail museum
— Sruthy Susan Ullas

Bangalore: Ever wondered what life in a jail is like? How was it before Independence? Wait till you get to see the museum that is being proposed at the Old Central Jail.
The BBMP has commissioned the Indian Foundation for Arts to create a jail museum reflecting the life in central jails of the state over the years. The museum, proposed to come up at Freedom Park, will tell stories of the experience in prisons.
According to initial plans, the main building of the central jail will be turned into the museum. The first phase of research is already under way by the IFA. The plan is to have antiques and images from the seven central jails of Karnataka, including Bellary, Gulbarga, Bijapur, Belgaum and Mysore prisons.
The antiques will include torture instruments and medical equipment. “It will be a journey through the history of each prison, the freedom fighters who were imprisoned there during the British rule and the condition of prisoners. This would be contrasted with prison life today,” said Shai Heredia, who is part of the research team. “Each prison has a different story to tell. We will bring all of them under a single roof.” The team is at present travelling and talking to prisoners, jailers and others.

Vivekananda at a crossroads

Vivekananda at a crossroads

Saint is mute witness to jurisdictional limits of four police stations

MK Madhusoodan. Bangalore

It's a strange confluence, an odd coincidence. The statue of Swami Vivekananda, who famously introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1893 with the words "brothers and sisters of America," presides over this confluence. The Swami's statue stands on Bull Temple Road, just outside the Ramakrishna Mutt. The saint stands mute witness, at the limits of four different police stations.
While the Swami's statue stands in a traffic island within the limits of the Basavanagudi police station, the Ramakrishna Mutt and the footpath outside its compound comes under the Kempegowdanagar police station. To the south of the Ramakrishna Mutt is the Rao Bahadur Hayavadana Rao Road, leading to Hanumanthanagar. This road and areas beyond fall under the Hanumanthanagar police limits.
To the east of the statue, both Vani Vilas Road and Gandhi Nagar Main Road come under the limits of the Basavanagudi police station. The Bull Temple Road in front of the Ramakrishna Mutt, right up to Vani Vilas Road, comes under the Shankarpuram police station.
In short, the traffic island that the statue falls in serves as the demarcation point for four police stations. However, there is no dispute over the circle itself, and officers of all four police stations agree on the principle of give-and-take. "We have no major jurisdictional problems. This is a busy intersection, one that sees dense movement of traffic through the day. We understand that while the Bull Temple Road and the east side of it from the junction of Vani Vilas Road fall within our jurisdiction, the Ramakrishna Mutt, with its serene surroundings, falls within the Kempegowda police station. And the Kempegowda police station limits are rather peaceful," says Inspector C Gopal of Shankarpuram police station.
There is, however, the odd instance when there is a dispute between the different police stations—a famous instance was in 1996, when the film producer Chidambara Reddy was kidnapped and murdered. Reddy's body was spotted on one side of the road leading from the rear side of NIMHANS by an inspector who was riding his two-wheeler. When he later returned to the spot, the inspector found that the body had been moved to the other side of the road—the murder itself did not create as great a fracas in the city as the curious shifting of the victim's body.
Who could be responsible for shifting the body? The shift had caused the responsibility for the investigation of the murder to move from one police station to another—while the body was first spotted in the Siddapur police station limits, its shift to the other side of the road caused the investigation to fall within the jurisdiction of the Wilson Garden police.
Victims of crime often find themselves running between pillar and post in situations like this, as the jurisdictional limits of the different police stations are unclear.

Our city is becoming ugly & that is a tragedy

Our city is becoming ugly & that is a tragedy

Bosky Khanna

Many believe that the city is in a steady state of decline. But it is not just the government and civic agencies who are responsible for this. Even the people are responsible. Janaagraha is an organisation that works to encourage people's participation in local governance and to ensure well-planned urban reforms. Swati Ramanathan, co-founder of Janaagraha, speaks to Bosky Khanna on the importance of public participation in civic programmes and ways to make civic agencies accountable.

Can you share some information about Janaagraha's four projects?
Some of the programmes we run are: Area Parisaramitra for garbage management; Area Surakshamitra, a civil defence programme for neighbourhood security; Area booth level leaders; and Jaagte Raho, to make voters participate in the election process. Each 'area' has about 300 households, and citizens from each area volunteer to be part of the programmes. Bala Janaagraha runs a programme for children.

How will the programmes help build a connect between civic agencies and people?
Imagine all registered voters becoming members of a formal platform called 'area sabhas' and then nominating 'area representatives' to take up issues and projects concerning the area with the local elected representative at the ward level. This will not be an ad hoc grievance platform but a legitimate platform for participation in civic programmes. Local governments will have to respond to the platforms' queries and demands with action, or give reasons for not taking any action. The ripple effects of such legitimacy and equity to participation will bring integration between needs and projects, and ensure accountability to the people in the execution of projects rather than to the higher levels of government.

The government announces policies to tackle civic problems. What are the difficulties being faced in solving such issues?
The plans and policies are very rarely implemented. It will be interesting to study how many of these actually get implemented.

How will your projects help make civic agencies more responsible?
These agencies are parastatal organisations created to address issues of water, power and planning, as city's needs increased. However, they all report to the state government, despite the 74th constitutional amendment decentralising these functions (except those related to power) to the local government. Local functions must be devolved to the BBMP, the local government. This is the principle of subsidiarity, which says that what can be done most effectively at the local level must be given to the local government. The JNNURM includes this decentralisation as a mandatory reform. Once this is done, accountability is important.

Which is the biggest problem the city is currently facing?
Roads, footpaths, and drains are the most visible problems. We are becoming an ugly city, which is a tragedy. Urban Planning is weak.

HC nod for Metro work near Soudha

HC nod for Metro work near Soudha
Bangalore, DHNS:

The High Court on Monday gave the go-ahead for the Metro Rail construction work in front of the Vidhana Soudha and the High Court along Ambedkar Veedhi.

G K Govinda Rao had filed a petition seeking its direction to the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) not to carry out underground work for the construction of the Metro.

The petitioner’s contention was that the present alignment required the cutting down of trees and would cause environmental damage. He had sought an alternative route for the Metro construction.

However, the division bench headed by Chief Justice P D Dinakaran did not find merit in the argument and ruled that it would not be proper for the court to interfere in the decision taken by the executive.

Ruling that this was more so in a case of public contract that affected the economy, the bench observed, “It may not be proper to interfere with the impugned project at this stage.”

279 trees to pave way for Metro

279 trees to pave way for Metro
Bangalore: Oct 26, DHNS:

As many as 279 trees face axe with the High Court on Monday giving green signal to proceed with ‘Namma Metro’ underground work on Dr B R Ambedkar Veedhi.

While only 2,126 sq mtrs of Cubbon Park land will be acquired by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) for locating the ventilation shaft and entrance/exit of the station on the underground stretch, a substantial green cover (199 trees at Vidhana Soudha and 80 trees at Central College) will have to make way for construction activity now.


Environmentalist Dr Yellappa Reddy, who recently resigned as chairman of the BMRCL appointed committee on environment said, “I am sure the court is aware of the consequences and risks involved to the environment, while giving the go-ahead. The underground station, once operational will have a high population density. Have they factored in terror threats? The Metro is required, but at what cost?”

Countering the BMRCL’s claim that green cover will be restored after the completion of the project, Dr Reddy said it is not possible. “Eco-restoration is not possible. It will take hundreds of years. Trees cannot grow in a day. I am sad to say that future generations will pay a price for no fault of theirs,” warned the former Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer.

He also rued that his suggestion of diverting the Metro alignment away from the Vidhana Soudha, High Court and Central College by taking it through the vast Race Course land has been ignored. “Allowing BMRCL to go ahead with the work is not a wise one. The entire beauty of Ambedkar Veedhi will be marred. We need to protect our heritage buildings” added Dr Reddy.

High Court okays Metro work on Ambedkar Veedhi

High Court okays Metro work on Ambedkar Veedhi

Staff Reporter
‘Underground work may endanger buildings’
There is no acquisition of land for forming the alternative roads, says BMRCL

Lawns to be re-laid once the underground section was completed

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Monday “accorded permission” to the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation limited (BMRCL) to take up underground work of Namma Metro on Ambedker Veedhi, in front of Vidhana Soudha and adjacent buildings in Bangalore.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice Mohan Shantangouder passed the order on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition by G.R. Mohan, a Bangalore-based advocate.

Mr. Mohan had challenged the decision of BMRCL in going ahead with the project in front of Vidhana Soudha and High Court buildings without obtaining permission of the High Court.

The petitioner had pointed out that a Division Bench comprising the then Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, P.V. Reddi and Justice N.K. Patil on August 13, 2001 directed the State to obtain permission of the court before taking up any project in Cubbon Park area.

The State and BMRCL, he said, had not complied with the 2001 order and that they had so far not taken permission of the High Court. He said the underground work would entail stoppage of traffic on Ambedkar Veedhi. Two alternative roads had been proposed by BMRCL — one near the Vidhana Soudha and another near High Court. The alternative roads, he said, are designed to come up on the lawns of the Vidhana Soudha and the High Court.

The alternative roads would be operational till the underground section on Ambedkar Veedhi was completed. The State had so far not sought permission of the court though Vidhana Soudha too came under the Cubbon Park area. He apprehended that blasting by the BMRCL while taking up work on the underground section might endanger the safety of the High Court and Vidhana Soudha buildings.

Advocate-General Ashok Harnahalli submitted that the route map of BMRCL had already been approved by the State. He said the two alternative roads are temporary.

The former Advocate-General and advocate for BMRCL R.N. Narasimha Murthy said there is no acquisition of land for forming the alternative roads. The Bench, in its order, observed that, “It is a settled principle that in the matter of policy decisions, it may not be proper for this court to interfere with the decisions taken by the Executive. It is more so, in the case of public contract and which has got direct bearing on commercial transactions and which affects the economy of the State.”

It desisted from interfering with the project at this stage as any interference would not only delay the project but also suffocate its progress and cause public inconvenience. However, it referred to the 2001 judgment and said it would accord permission for the project. It said it reposed confidence in the State to take note of the suggestions of the petitioner on the safety of heritage buildings and disposed of the case.