Sunday, February 28, 2010

To board a flight, catch a train to BIA from March

To board a flight, catch a train to BIA from March

The state is pumping in Rs2,500 crore for various railway projects in the next five years

Srikanth Hunasavadi. Bangalore

It's official. Starting March 2010, the city's air travellers will get some reprieve from the long journey to the airport. KH Muniyappa, union minister of state for railways, announced that the South Western Railway's train services from the city to Devanahalli will commence in March 2010 as per schedule.
He said on Saturday that train services to Anekal would also start by March. "We have requested the Karnataka government to provide a track link to BIA from Devanahalli station but the state government has not yet taken a decision," he said. Muniyappa added that if the state government provides this last mile connectivity through the track link, he would extend the train services to BIA directly.
Further decoding the union railway budget for the state, Muniyappa said that nine train services, as announced, will start operation within three months and the survey of 15 new railway lines would be completed within six months. "We have successfully launched train services that were announced in the previous budget. Only two train services, i.e., extension of Karwar-Mangalore and Rajdhani trains are pending. Within a month, these two train services will also start.
"Soon after, we will launch the new train services announced in the 2010-11 railway budget," he said.
Muniyappa also said that on cost-sharing basis, Kottur-Harihara, Shimoga-Talaguppa, Bangalore-Mysore and Munirabad-Raichur railway projects have been taken up. "The total cost is Rs4,862 crore, of which the state government will pump in about Rs778 crore while the railways will invest the remaining amount. Apart from that, the state government is pumping in Rs2,500 crore for various railway projects in the next five years," he added.
Of the earlier 30 surveys sanctioned, 18 have been completed and officials have been directed to complete the survey of 15 new routes including Mysore-Mangalore within the next six months on priority basis, the minister said. He pointed out that last year's outlay was Rs743 crore while this year, it has been doubled to Rs1,483 crore.

City walls give artists' careers a new lease

City walls give artists' careers a new lease

Senthalir S. Bangalore

Painting the city walls has given a new lease of life to the painters who are part of the work carried out by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). After the ban on banners, cut-outs and digital flexes taking over traditional painting, the lives of the painters involved in such work were in tatters.
"After 2002, at least 50% of the painters in the city had lost their livelihood. The digital medium had taken over. At least 50% of the painters lost their livelihood. However, BBMP's initiative has given them hope. Many have got jobs because of this," said BN Sathyanarayan of Murugan Arts. He heads a team of 150 people who are now painting city walls. "We have painted images of heritage sites like Hampi, Nandi Hills and many tourist spots in the state. In schools and colleges, the walls would be painted with messages that are educative and patriotic. At Lalbagh, the walls would have images of plants and flowers, Kanakapura Road would have stencil paintings of nature and Bannerghatta Road would have pictures of animals. The walls alongside Airport Road would be covered with pictures of India's tourist places," he said.
Murugan Arts took up the work of painting Bangalore's walls in September 2009. Now, work is on in Lalbagh Rajajinagar, Malleswaram, Majestic, Yeshwanthpur and Banaswadi. "In Lalbagh, we are covering at least 80,000 sq feet. It is about 7-8 km. We started work here in December; we have covered 75% of the distance. We will complete the work in a month," he said.
Painter Shiva T is glad that painters have a job now, but that is temporary, too, he pointed out. "The work will go on for three or four months. After that it would be difficult for us," he said. BT Ramesh, chief engineer (west zone), BBMP, said that they called for quotations and work was entrusted to Murugan Arts.

Bisi-bisi dosa-coffee can't get better than this

Bisi-bisi dosa-coffee can't get better than this

For the authentic South Indian snack, head to Ganesh Darshan in Jayanagar, the pioneer in the dosa camp concept of being served hot dosas straight off the pan. Sindhu Murthy reports

Sindhu Murthy

When in South Bangalore and passing through Jayanagar IV block, you would have noticed a sea of people milling around a roadside food joint. This usually crowded fast-food centre is Ganesh Darshan (popularly referred to as GD), a self-service fast-food hub that made famous the dosa camp concept of serving dosas straight from the pan on to your plate.
GD is famous for dosas roasted to near perfection. It's also infamous for long queues of people waiting to be served. Patrons flock here for dosa, ritualistically follow it up with a steaming cuppa.
To some, visiting GD is like an illness they choose not to be cured of. Stopping by for masala dosa and coffee every time I pass by Jayanagar is an OCD," says Karthik Kumar, an IT professional who makes a stop every morning, on his way from Banashankari to office in Koramangala. And his OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) resurfaces in the evening, when he returns home.
The choice of locality was a no-brainer, says Ramachandra Bhatt, manager. "GD is located here since South Bangalore houses old Bangaloreans, who prefer vegetarian eats." Bhatt says: We started in 1989 and in 1993, our Dosa Camp became a rage as we dish out varieties peculiar to our kitchen." They are adept at innovating. GD makes dosas with almost every vegetable used in sambhar, and most fruits. Besides the usual masala, plain, onion and set dosas, had you imagined that dosas could be made of sapota, mango, jackfruit, pineapple, tomato and carrot too? The best part is they don't ruin the authenticity of the regular potato and onion masala dosa, instead they appetise enough to try all varieties. Don't miss sabakki, methi and pudina dosas.
"The rottis — akki, avarekaayi and ragi — are sought-after too," Bhatt says, adding that they make as many varieties of chutneys as dosas. "Every day of the week we have a new kind of chutney — coconut, tomato, pudina, coriander, groundnut, sesame, moong dal..." All items are made with "pure ingredients, including the ghee and spices." Groceries are from the mandi close-by. Snacks are made by cooks, who are all from South Canara.
Let the aromas of GD lure you here. Every morsel will more than make up for your effort, we promise.
Drop in at # 224, 8th main, 3rd block, Jayanagar, Call 41505554. Open: 7am to 10.30pm. They take catering orders.

Police arrest four for Carlton fire tragedy

Police arrest four for Carlton fire tragedy

All were prima facie held responsible for closing the fire exits

MK Madhusoodan. Bangalore

The heat is spreading slowly in the aftermath of Carlton Towers fire tragedy that claimed nine lives on Tuesday.
On Saturday, Jeevanbimanagar police took four persons into their custody in connection with the incident.
Police said the four were taken into custody as they were prima facie held responsible for closing the fire exit routes within the towers. The police have already registered a case against the owners of the building under Section 304 of IPC for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Assistant commissioner of police (Ulsoor sub division) said the arrested include Rafiq-ur-Rahman, secretary of Carlton Towers Owners Association, who has been accused of blocking the exit point in the building as per the statements given by the other occupants of the building, Ramachandra Bhandari, chief security advisor for the towers, Kempe Gowda, supervisor, electrical installations, and Chennaih, head of administration and safety, Carlton Towers.
Police said these four have been detained for questioning and if evidence is found against them, they will be arrested and produced at the court.
Police said they were checking the documents received from Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to ascertain the details of the original owners of the building.

No vehicles on Commercial Street

No vehicles on Commercial Street

Staff Reporter
Bangalore: Vehicular movement was banned on Commercial Street, one of the busiest shopping destinations in the city, from Tuesday as the Bangalore Water Supply Sewerage Board (BWSSB) is replacing the existing drainage pipelines.

According to the Bangalore City police, the ban would continue till March 15. Frequent shoppers at Commercial Street felt the ban on vehicles was a hassle as they have to now depend on Brigade Road and Mahatma Gandhi Road for shopping. Traders also felt the ban was affecting their business. Both traders and shoppers have to now park their vehicles on Kamaraja Road or other roads to access Commercial Street.

The work of replacing the decades-old 150 mm pipelines with 300 mm ones commenced on Tuesday. The BWSSB has completed work up to Punjab National Bank junction.

From Saturday evening, the BWSSB began digging trenches from the Punjab National Bank junction towards Commercial Street police station.

“Two-wheelers are allowed to travel up to Punjab National Bank junction from the entry point of Commercial Street. But the movement will be restricted during peak hours. Two-wheelers have also been allowed up to Narayana Pillai Street (Commercial Street 3rd cross) but entry has been banned for four-wheelers,” said a traffic police official.

A BWSSB official said: “All efforts are being taken to complete the work in the next two weeks. However, the police can allow two-wheelers on the right side of the road where the work has been completed.”


Fire fighters who braved the blaze at Carlton Towers on Tuesday were groping in the dark with no clue whatsoever of the exits points in the building. Reason:The BBMP took an entire day to locate the building plan!

The lack of coordination between government departments has once again come into the fore as investigations into the Carlton Towers fire tragedy continue, five days after the incident. An absolute lack of coordination between the BBMP and the fire fighters worsened the situation or at least, that is what the fire department believes.
The fire fighters who braved the flames on Tuesday did not even have a building plan to refer to during their rescue operation. The reason: The BBMP which is the custodian of all building plans could not find the plan until the next day. They found the building plan of Carlton Towers the next day in the afternoon when they had to submit a report to Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena.
“I do not want to blame another Government department. But it is also true that we would have been able to plan a more organised rescue effort if we had been able to access an accurate building plan,” said Jija Hari Singh, DG, Fire Safety and Emergency Services.
On Tuesday, when the fire personnel reached Carlton Towers, they had to rescue people based on the feel of the building. “We had no idea about the building structure and its emergency exits. But we decided to go ahead and start the rescue operation. Had we waited any longer, more lives would have been lost,” said the official.
Even when the tragedy unfolded, except for the health officials of the East Zone, the BBMP engineering officials were conspicuous by their absence. Bharat Lal Meena visited the site at around 9.30 pm in the night.
Jija Hari Singh also said that there were a lot of deviations in Carlton Towers from the approved plan. “There were a lot of changes in the building which made our rescue operation very difficult,” she said.
But she also added that once the fire personnel reached the spot, there were no more deaths.”Hundreds of lives were saved after we reached the spot,” she said.
However, the official says that this tragedy is an eye opener. “We have met with the BBMP officials and asked them to keep updated building plans of major multi-storied buildings in the city and to also give us copies of the same. This will save time and make it easier for us to function during an emergency,” she said. BBMP officials remained unavailable for comment.
The Joint Director, Fire Safety and Emergency Services, D B Chengappa, submitted an interim report on the Carlton Towers tragedy on Friday.The report places the blame squarely on the change of the building structure that effectively sealed emergency exits. Here are the other highlights of the report.

• The ground floor which houses a number of eateries and shops is shown as open space in the building plan.This open space was sealed off by commercial establishments so as not to inconvenience their patrons.Therefore, the emergency exits leading to the ground floor from the other levels were blocked.The scene was much worse in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th floors where exits had illegal additions

• The fire safety measures in the building, including sprinklers and extinguishers, smoke detectors, fire alarms and the public attention system were not working

• The two fire staircases were barred with iron doors and locked because the owners of the building did not want to splurge on a couple of extra security guards

• The passage way connecting the A wing (where the fire broke out) to the B wing was also locked

• The fire department had given a NOC to the building in 1999 after inspection but did not have powers to reinspect the building.That authority lies with the BBMP. In the last 11 years, there have been checks done which have pointed to a systematic failure of the safety system in place at Carlton

Rajeev Chandrashekar, independent Member of Parliament, has written to Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa about the safety of multi-storied buildings in the city. The MP has asked the government to review the readiness of the fire department and the feasibility of the technology being used. He has also addressed the issue of crowd management to allow people in an emergency maximum access to emergency services.

Disappearing bus shelters leave commuters under scorching sun

Disappearing bus shelters leave commuters under scorching sun
Kavitha K, Feb 27, Bangalore:

Waiting at certain BMTC bus-stops in parts of the City has just got more painful. Commuters, especially students, elderly and sick people, on the Jayanagar-Shivajinagar route have discovered, to their dismay, that bus shelters at four consecutive bus-stops have disappeared, leaving them to brave the blazing sun while they wait for a bus.

The shelters and the seats at the bus-stops over a three-km stretch, from Jayanagar Third Block to Ashoka Pillar via Kamala Garden School and Madhavan Park, disappeared a fortnight ago.

Karthika (36), who commutes from Jayanagar VIII Block to her workplace on Double Road, says she noticed that the shelters were missing last week, but hoped they would be replaced by new ones soon. After a week, she went to the staff at the BMTC terminus in Jayanagar IV Block. “They were clueless. They told me to contact the BBMP,” she said.
This route connects several hospitals (Ramakrishna Nursing Home, The Cradle and Clumax Diagnostic Centre in Jayanagar Third Block; Maiyya Hospital in Ashoka Pillar and Mahabodhi Hospital in Siddapura), schools and colleges (NMKRV College, Vijaya High School, Sri Rama Vidya Mandir, Rani Sarala Devi High School,).

The mysterious disappearance of the shelters has inconvenienced both students with heavy school bags as well as elderly people like Vasudev Murthy who travel every day from Jayanagar to a hospital in Siddapura for medicines and physiotherapy. “I am a diabetic and tire easily. I need a place to sit when waiting for a bus. Taking an autorisckshaw is expensive for a pensioner like me. With the bus shelters gone, I end up with a splitting headache apart from feeling very tired,” he explains.
Who uprooted them?

BMTC officials deny any role in the matter. “We have not removed any bus shelter. The Bruhut Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) advertising department is responsible. They have asked private contractors to remove the existing shelters as they are in the process of re-tendering the shelters,” said a BMTC official. BMTC is not making any efforts urging BBMP to hasten the process of replacing the shelters?

Phone calls to the BBMP revealed that private contractors and ad agencies with permission from the Palike are busy pulling down the shelters, and will rebuild them — within four months — despite the fact that these are pre-fabricated structures that can be erected in a matter of hours!

“The five-year lease period for agencies that use bus shelters for advertising has expired. They have been given 120 days by BBMP to remove and refix the shelters. New tenders from ad agencies have been called for the next 5-year period. We can’t keep informing the public every time this happens. Ask the BBMP Joint Commissioner (Advertising) about why the public isn’t informed,” said Govinde Gowda, executive engineering (advertising), BBMP.

BMTC’s assistant traffic manager Jagadish admits that his department has been receiving many complaints from the public about the missing bus shelters. “But we can’t tell the public anything. The BBMP should do it. It has been decided that new bus shelters will be handled by the BMTC. In that case, we will have some answers,” he said.
While the BMTC and the BBMP indulge in buck-passing and bickering, it is good samaritans like Asif, who owns a leather goods shop behind the Jayanagar Third Block bus-stop, who offer shelter and a chair to expectant mothers, elderly folk and the ill, waiting for a bus until the promised new shelter comes up —hopefully before the monsoon.

Air China lands at BIA

Air China lands at BIA
Bangalore,Feb 27, dhns:

Bangalore is now connected directly to China by air. The first flight of Air China, China’s national carrier, landed at the Bengaluru International Airport here late Saturday night. The Boeing 757 aircraft had taken off from the Chinese IT hub of Chengdu.

The first flight from Bangalore to Shanghai via Chengdu will take off from BIA on Sunday. Passengers of the Saturday flight had a welcome reception at BIA, organised by Air India, Karnataka tourism and STIC Travels.

The Air China service will fly twice a week; on every Thursday and Sunday from Bangalore to Shanghai via Chengdu. This service will offer seamless connectivity not only to China but also beyond to West Coast USA, Korea, Japan, Australia. The airline is offering exclusive promotional fares starting from Rs 20,625 for a return ticket for a booking period from February 28 to May 31.

Book chronicles city’s evolution

Book chronicles city’s evolution
Bangalore:Feb 27, DHNS:

In a city, where old buildings are routinely torn down to make way for glass facade skyrises, where memories grapple to recollect a town that once was, a book attempts to gently remind us of times, this city of dual names has seen.

“Bengaluru, Bangalore, Bengaluru-Imagination and their Times” is a book that probes into history beyond historical facts and puts together contemporary accounts of the imaginations of those who were heard at each point in time.

The book chronicles the turning points in the City’s history from the fall of the pete in 1791 to the British to the Initial Public Offering (IPO) by Infosys. This has been done by reproducing extracts and recollections from those present during each of these times. They include Thomas Munro, Rev Arthur Williams, Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, Mirza Ismail, Thamboo Chetty and K Sheshadri Iyer.

Speaking at the book launch on Saturday, historian Ramchandra Guha commented that the book enabled people to relate to the city through their own personal history that could be traced through incidents mentioned in the book.
He said that history has not mattered so far because each dominant group that came to the city left its own imprint resulting in a historic amnesia. The city has also suffered tangible physical loss in the form of lakes, parks and heritage buildings, he pointed out.
Noted writer U R Ananthamurthy said, “You cannot feel a city unless you walk in the city.” He remarked that he personally felt more at home in cities, where he could walk endlessly, something that was simply not possible in Bangalore. Speaking of the name change from Bangalore to Bengaluru, he said that his suggestion for the change had been sparked by mischief, as Kannada language had this ability to absorb a word into its dictionary, by simply adding ‘oo’ sound to it as a suffix!

Later, he remarked that the biggest decision of his life was never to write in English and always write in Kannada. “I want to write in a language that does not travel across the borders,” he added. The book edited by Narendar Pani, Sindhu Radhakrishna and Kishor G Bhat, presents different viewpoints of several crucial events that took place in the city’s history.

More funds for Metro rail

More funds for Metro rail
New Delhi, Feb 26, DHNS

To expedite the construction of metro rail project in Bangalore, the Centre has increased its financial assistance to Rs 576 crore in the Budget as against the Rs 386 crore allocation last year.

The Budget, which underlined the urgency of improving urban infrastructures facilities, said that of the Rs 576 crore, the equity by the Union government will be Rs 100 crore and the rest will be raised from loan.

When the metro rail project was launched, it was targeted to complete all its reaches by 2010. However, due to delay in execution, the deadline has now been extended to 2013.
The Union Urban Development Ministry, one of the partners to implement the project, has expressed its worry over the delays.

In the Budget, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans), Bangalore, has been allotted Rs 113 crore against Rs 125 crore of last year while Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, will receive Rs 113 crore against Rs 125 crore last year.

HC faults BDA on land acquisition

HC faults BDA on land acquisition

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 27 Feb 2010 08:19:06 AM IST
BANGALORE: The High Court on Friday criticised the manner in which land acquisitions and subsequent denotifications were being carried out by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).
It suggested necessary amendments should be made to laws to prevent politicians, bureaucrats, land mafia and middlemen from misusing loopholes to their advantage and earn easy money and property at the cost of the government and people.
In his judgement on a writ petition filed by Gangiah Naidu with regard to returning of betterment charges, Justice N Kumar observed, “The non-collection of betterment charges for the land that was denotified from acquisition is illegal and contrary to law.” However, the court upheld BDA’s decision to denotify some of the lands that were notified or acquired.
Justice Kumar added, “Though the poor farmers’ lands are being acquired, we find that most of the times the beneficiaries are well placed and influential persons.
The locals who are living in the city for more than 30 to 40 years are unable to get a site.” “We cannot be passive spectators to what is happening in the name of land acquisition in public interest and for the planned growth of the city. Acquisitions are being done without proper survey or planning.” “In most cases, more than 50 per cent of the notified land is given up. People other than the farmers would be holding general power of attorney in such lands and they take the benefit of the development done by BDA.
This has made Bangalore a lucrative place and also a cause for circulation of unaccounted hard cash into the system.
“The land has become a goldmine for owners and they enjoy the benefits of formation of layout at the expense of innocent people.
Such denotification has given rise to a new breed of professionals who are successful in manipulating and getting things done. Money power and proximity to the seat of power help their cause. Politicians, bureaucrats and land mafia are partners in this lucrative enterprise which is polluting the health and culture of the society.” Justice Kumar gave the example of Banashankari VI phase, where “only 750 acres were utilised out of the notified 1,532 acres and remaining 782 acres were given up.”

Bus Rapid Transit needs infrastructure to work’

Bus Rapid Transit needs infrastructure to work’

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 27 Feb 2010 08:12:23 AM ISTLast Updated : 27 Feb 2010 08:59:22 AM IST
BANGALORE: Senior transport engineer for sustainable transport from the USA, Dario Hidalgo, on Friday pointed out that building roads, flyovers, underpasses and widening of roads is not enough to get rid of traffic congestion in urban areas.
“Besides BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), infrastructure and accessibility should be created for non-motorised transport for pedestrians and cyclists,” he said.
He said that the BRT system in Asia is not yet fully understood by stakeholders, at a day-long national workshop on BRT held by the Directorate of Urban Land Transport. He added that Delhi’s problems resulted in a negative impact on BRT all over India as the Delhi bus corridor had several problems in its first weeks.
Hidalgo said BRT is a high quality public transport system, oriented to users and offering fast, comfortable and low-cost urban mobility. He stressed the importance of BRT for Bangalore. “Following economic development, numbers of vehicles are increasing faster than population,” he said.
The Comprehensive Transport and Traffic Plan for Bangalore proposes that BRT can be done for 291.5 km at a cost of Rs 3,498 crore in two phases in 14 corridors. The proposal is to develop BRT on the Outer Ring Road as a pilot project from Hebbal to Central Silk Board junction.
The bus system would have a dedicated corridor and operate new technology buses designed for urban environment.
Hidalgo said that BRT does not need wide roads to be incorporated in urban areas. “BRT will be a success provided it has dedicated bus lanes and elevated tracks besides integrating the feeder services with the system,” he added.
Transport Secretary S Shankarlinge Gowda said that BRT can be incorporated in Bangalore if certain corridors are facilitated for it.
“Without the involvement of civic bodies, BRT cannot be implemented.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) should be proactive and take up the project,” he added.
Gowda said that BRT should also be planned for developing cities like Mysore and Hubli-Dharwad. “BDA should take up developing of BRT for 30 km in the first phase,” he added.

An electronic guide to ease commuting

An electronic guide to ease commuting
Traffic police instal first two of the 50 Variable Message Sign boards coming up in the city that will warn commuters of the bottlenecks ahead

Bangalore City Traffic Police are taking a major step to ease the woes of commuters — they are planning to instal Variable Message Sign (VMS) boards at key points in the city to constantly inform the motorists about traffic jams ahead and the possible alternative routes they can take.
Terming the system as the first of its kind in the country, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security) Praveen Sood said, “Two such VMS boards have been installed near K R Puram flyover and in Sampangirama Nagar near Pallavi cinema hall on trial basis which will be fully operational within 10 days.”
Panduranga H Rane, DCP, West (Traffic) said the boards will display information about road blocks, heavy traffic and processions on particular stretches as fed into them from the automation centre and suggest commuters alternative routes to reach their destination.
“To manage the traffic efficiently and scientifically with the available human resources, we have launched an interim Traffic Management Centre (TMC). It receives live video footage from surveillance cameras installed at 160 major junctions and signal violations from five enforcement cameras. Altogether 301 traffic signals are linked to the centre through lease line managed by the experts,” Sood said.
“Soon, most of the traffic signals will be vehicle actuated. This is a precursor to a full-fledged TMC which will be ready within 18 months of time. We are spending Rs 13 crore on the project,” he said, adding that the ultimate aim is to set up an Intelligent Transport System comprised of the TMC equipped with 160 surveillance cameras, five enforcement cameras, 50 VMS boards and 400 major traffic signals connected to it through lease line.”
Banashankari Bus stop Manipal Hospital Old Madras Road N R Square Hudson Circle Richmond Circle Bellary Road Mysore Road Tumkur Road Old Airport Road K G Circle Majestic area

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bangalore is short of fire stations

Bangalore is short of fire stations

Bosky Khanna. Bangalore

The closest fire station that can cater to the Bengaluru International airport is in Hebbal, nearly 30km away. This is not all. The fire and emergency department had proposed to the state government last year to set up eight fire stations in various parts of the city, including at Electronics City, ITPL, Banashankari, Kanakapura Road, Sarjapur, Hulimavu, Yelahanka and Devanahalli.
However, work has begun only on setting up stations at Sarjapur and Hulimavu, while plans for other areas have run into land acquisition hurdles. "We require at least one acre to set up a fire station. The total cost would amount to Rs3 crore. Lands have been identified, but they are embroiled in litigations," deputy director (technical), fire and emergency services, BK Hamppagol, said.
He said that going by international standards, there should be one fire station for every 50,000 population. But the city has only 12 fire stations. They are located at High Grounds, Mysore Road, Mayo Hall, Padmanabhanagar, Yeshwantpur, Banaswadi, Whitefield, Peenya industrial town, Bangalore dairy, Hebbal, Cooke Town and Byappanahalli.
Each station has a 50,000-litre underground water storage capacity, while a fire tender can store anywhere between 4,500 litres and 16,000 litres, depending on their capacity. In cases where more water is needed, either additional vehicles would be pooled in, or water would be drawn from BWSSB pipelines, bore wells and open tanks.
The city currently has 40 vehicles. If more vehicles are procured, there will be parking issues. D Rasheed, deputy director (administration) of the fire department, said that in the case of Carlton Towers, people could have used the water from their water cans to control the fire until the fire personnel reached the spot

High-tech call centre for Arogya Kavacha soon

High-tech call centre for Arogya Kavacha soon

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 26 Feb 2010 04:45:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 26 Feb 2010 10:14:55 AM IST
BANGALORE: A high-tech call centre for Arogya Kavacha- 108 ambulance services will be installed in Bangalore, similar to the models followed in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa said at the launch of Arogya Kavacha-108 ambulances on Thursday.
As per the commitment made by the state government to provide 517 ambulances under the Arogya Kavacha-108 scheme, 409 were already serving in all 30 districts since November 1, 2008.
A 108 ambulances were added on Thursday.
The scheme being implemented under Public Private Partnership (government and GVK-EMRI) provides free ambulance services for medical, police, fire and other emergencies.
Since its operation, the centre has received more than one crore calls and so far served 3.55 lakh emergencies, with 1.22 lakh pregnancy-related calls.
The 108 services have been helpful, especially in rural areas, with 41 per cent of the total emergencies served relating to maternal complications.
Among others injuries are road traffic accidents, accounting to 17.39 pc, acute abdominal problems-11.4 pc, respiratory disorders-4.45 pc, cardiac problems-4.3 pc, poisoning and drug overdose- 3.04 pc and suicides-0.31 pc.
Health Minister B Sriramulu and Dr GV Krishna Reddy, chairman, GVK were present.

Officials knew, but did nothing

Officials knew, but did nothing
Electrical inspectors, scandalised to see gensets and 1,000 litres of diesel stored in barrels on the terrace, had issued Carlton Towers a notice nine months ago. But no action followed

FOLLOWING the tragedy on Tuesday that claimed nine lives at Carlton Towers, skeletons have been tumbling out of every department's closet. Reports emerged on Thursday that the building had 1,000 litres of diesel and nine diesel generator sets stowed on the terrace. The department of electrical inspectorate says it had foreseen the problem and even sent a notice to the owners.
“Nine months ago we had issued a notice to Carlton Towers after a field examination. The diesel tanks stored on the terrace are a direct violation of the Indian Electricity Rules of 1956. Yet the owners had done nothing to correct it,” said a source within the department.
A senior technical engineer said the nine diesel generator sets were also unauthorised. "Before the installation of generator sets of more than 10 kw capacity, owners need a written permission from us. We have given them partial permission for some sets but not for storing diesel. The rule says building owners need to reserve a separate space for generators," said the engineer.
What has baffled officials is how the generator sets were shifted to the terrace. "It is very dangerous to shift fuel and equipment up, and in those quantities. They have either pumped the fuel up or transported it in the lift. As for the generators, only a crane could have lifted it to the terrace," said the official. However, Chief Electrical Engineer D H Basavaraj refused to comment.
Some of the nine gensets were connected to three cellular towers on the building. Questions are now being raised about their authorisation as well. A year ago, the Urban Development Department made it mandatory for owners to get clearance before fixing transmitting towers on multi-storied buildings.
The CMC Act was amended accordingly and towers built before the law came into force were also brought under its purview. The status on the structures on Carlton Towers however remains unclear.
BBMP Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena, who received a report from East Zone officials about the building's clearances, remained unavailable for comment. Officials of every other department responsible for issuing clearances, including town planning, engineering and revenue, did not take calls.
A team from Forensic Science Laboratory, police
and Bescom visited Carlton Towers on Thursday.
Chief Fire Officer Ramesh
said he would submit a report later in the day.

Ready for use

Ready for use

Sharan PoovannaFirst Published : 26 Feb 2010 07:02:43 AM IST
BANGALORE: The Cox Town-Wheeler Road railway overbridge will finally be open to public on March 1, 2010, nearly three-anda- half years after the project was given the green signal.
Residents of the area expressed mixed feelings about the inauguration of the long-overdue overbridge, which was built by the railways and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahangara Palike (BBMP) and had attracted the ire of the local residents’ association recently for lacklustre maintenance of service roads.
“It is truly a blessing that the authorities have decided to open the flyover to the public,” said Gururaj, a local resident and daily commuter on the road.
The public has heaved a sigh of relief for the moment, but the shopowners continue to be apprehensive about the continuity of business as ‘No Parking’ signs and other regulatory measures have been put up already.
“The parking and the traffic here may hamper business in this area.
However, we are grateful that the project is complete now and the dust and digging will stop,” said Jairam, who owns a phone booth near one end of the flyover.
“The project that had been started on September 18, 2006, had so far been the bane for motorists in the area,” said N Ramesh, the president of the Cooke Town Residential Welfare Association.
Ramesh told Express that the flyover suffered from ‘escalation flaws’ and ‘faced hurdles at every step’ during the construction.
The residents' associations of the areas had recently threatened to boycott the opening of the overbridge, Ramesh said.
However, the authorities had fulfilled their promise of layering the service roads much to the surprise of the residents, who then decided not to stage any more protests.
Ramesh also pointed out that directional signboards have been put up by the traffic department for the benefit of the motorists. “This bridge will upgrade the locality and also provide better connectivity to other areas,” Ramesh said.
However, motorists who have been taking a detour around the completed flyover for the past three months told the Express that it was not fair on the part of the authorities to cause inconvenience to the public just because they want some big minister to inaugurate it.

For an odour-free lake

For an odour-free lake

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 26 Feb 2010 07:04:44 AM IST
BANGALORE: Though Ulsoor Lake is now free of odour and floating sludge, the drains and inlet zones surrounding the lake are not odour free and foul smell emanates continuously, causing health hazards in the locality.
These were the few observations made by the team that inspected Ulsoor Lake on Thursday morning.
Global Academy of Technology (GAT) had organised a joint inspection of the lake and its surrounding drainages, inlet zones and stinking spots with BBMP health officials, environmentalists and residents.
Environmentalist Yellappa Reddy said that the BBMP should take up cleaning and maintenance of the lake and its surrounding drains and inlet zones.
The main lake water is treated by GAT and Madras Engineer Group (MEG) and the lake is free of odour, but BBMP should take up further cleaning and maintenance of the lake, he said.
He also added that the BBMP must take action to make drains and inlet zones odour free. “March 22 is the world water day and on this occasion, the BBMP should take up ‘Save Bangalore Lakes’ in order to create awareness among the public,” he said. The BBMP health officials who visited the lake listened to the grievances of the local residents and assured to take necessary actions.
However, the water samples of the inlet zones and main lake have been collected and have been sent for testing at the mines and geology department by the global academy.
The Art of Living conducted a signature campaign in the morning.

Bangalore to get five new residential layouts soon

Bangalore to get five new residential layouts soon
Bangalore, Feb 25 (IANS)

The Karnataka government plans to develop five new residential layouts in this tech hub to distribute housing sites for the people of Bangalore, state Governor H.R. Bhardwaj said Thursday.

“The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) is in the process of acquiring land to form five new layouts to meet the ever-growing housing needs of the people in the city,” Bhardwaj told lawmakers in his joint address to the state legislature on the first day of the budget session here.

The proposed layouts will enable the BDA to distribute 174,000 sites to the eligible citizens.

The state-run BDA issued final notification to acquire about 4,000 acres of land to form the Nadaprabhu Kempegowda layout.

Preliminary notification has been issued to acquire lands for forming Shivarama Karanath layout, K.C. Reddy layout, Sri Devaraj Urs layout and Nijilingappa layout.“The state government has accorded top priority to develop infrastructure in and around Bangalore. Civil works worth Rs.3,100 crore are under implementation this fiscal (2009-10). Approval for 12 signal-free corridors in the extended areas of the city has been given,” Bhardwaj informed the legislative members.

The governor assured the house that the Bangalore Metro project would be commissioned by March 2013.Highlighting the measures taken for urban development through local bodies, Bhardwaj said Karnataka was first in the country to initiate geographical information system (GIS)-based property tax assessment in five cities through public-private partnership (PPP).

“The GIS system will enable registration of all properties and facilitate owners to get clear property title. The system will be scaled up to other cities across the state in a phased manner.

Referring to the e-governance programmes underway, the governor said the Karnataka state wide area network (SWAN) has been commissioned and value of works tenders through the e-procurement mode had increased to Rs.20,000 crore.

“The government plans to set up a call centre to enable citizens seeking information and filing applications under the Right to Information Act. The 24x7 helpline will improve the public delivery system,” the governor added.

Govt buys more time for Metro take-off

Govt buys more time for Metro take-off
Bangalore, Feb 25, DHNS:

The City’s Namma Metro is not going to have its rail system up and running anytime soon.

After making—and breaking —several promises of an early launch, the State government has pushed the deadline for completing all reaches of the Bangalore Metro Rail project to March 2013. The previous deadline was September 2012 and two other, prior to the last one, were 2011 and 2010.

In his address to the joint session of the State Legislature, Governor H R Bhardwaj said the government would ensure that all reaches of the Metro project are commissioned by March 2013.

Under Phase I, there are four reaches besides the underground routes. Through the governor’s address, the government claimed that when it took over the reins of governance the Metro’s progress was 0.1 per cent and it now stood at 22.4 per cent with the construction of Phase 1 in full swing.

Work on the Byappanahalli-MG Road segment was progressing rapidly with 70 per cent completion. This segment, Bhardwaj said, would commence operations by December 2010.

Basavangudi residents’ plea to Lokayukta

Basavangudi residents’ plea to Lokayukta
Bangalore, Feb 25, DHNS

The Residents Welfare Association (RWA) of Basavangudi on Thursday lodged a complaint with the Lokayukta over the ‘unwarranted underpass at the Tagore Circle.’

In a petition submitted to Justice Sanotsh Hegde, the residents of Basavangudi appealed to him to look into the matter. The petition submitted to the Lokayukta states that the underpass was thrust upon the citizens by the authorities where it was not required. They have also listed names of eminent people including bureaucrats, sitting MLAs and former ministers who opposed the project.

The petition also carried figures on the Passenger Car Units (PCUs)/hr that was conducted by an independent third party consultant which also disputes the official figures as shown by STUP consultants under Government directions.

Meanwhile, the residents have also asked the Lokayukta to investigate into the report by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) formed for the purpose of looking into the feasibility of the Tagore Circle underpass.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Panic gripped everyone

A video grab of a man jumping from the Carlton Tower in panic to his death

"Our office did not catch fire but we ran out in panic," said Anitha, who works as a secretary in Salmi UK Ltd.

"Our valuables were missing when we came back." While she lost her mobile and purse, the miscreants had walked away with laptops and cash.

Fall of man: Even as people jumped from the Carlton Tower in panic to their deaths (see video above), thieves were busy stealing valuables from the stranded, including Pekka Molkka's (inset) passport. Pics/ SATISH BADIGER

Panic gripped everyone

Salmi UK Ltd, a dealer in zips, has its office on fourth floor of the building, and employees panicked when smoke came gushing in, followed by screams outside, around 3.30 pm. They ran out without locking the office.

Pekka Molkka, director of the company, lost his passport, apart from Rs 10000 from his cupboard. " We have to calculate the total loss since the robbers took away purses of the lady staff, bags, and some gadgets.

Even the dead not spared

The thieves clearly had no remorse. They removed credit cards, mobiles and watches from offices in the building. Some even rifled the pockets of the dead.

The family of the CEO of a multinational company, who died in the Carlton Tower blaze,
confirmed this startling fact.
Most of the people who rushed to help didn't come back empty handed. "They came back with whatever they could get," said an eyewitness at the spot.

"As I was running out, someone snatched my laptop and I had no time to look for him," said Sandeep Kulkarni, an employee with Acer.

Worse, some of the occupants blamed that the cops had joined the robbing spree. "The police flicked mobiles while clearing offices," said a Wipro employee, who was in the building when it caught fire.

Refuting the charges, ACP B B Ashok Kumar, who was on the spot, said, "I didn't see any member of our staff do it. Please don't malign the police." Some rescuers said they took valuables so they could save the stuff from the fire. "Whom does this belong to? I took this just to prevent damage and now I can't find the owner," asked Preetham, a passerby with a laptop in his hand, who had rushed to help people caught in the fire.

BBMP, fire brigade blame each other

BBMP, fire brigade blame each other
By: B V Shiva Shankar Date: 2010-02-24 Place: Bangalore

Fire officials put the blame on BBMP for the Carlton Towers tragedy, because it had issued the Occupancy Certificate (OC) to the building, which had violated numerous by-laws

"Rescue operations became difficult because the building norms were not followed. We could have saved many lives had the norms been followed," said P S Sandhu, inspector general of police, fire and emergency services.

Whose fault? Several civic and safety measures were found to have been disregarded at the Carlton Towers. Pic/Satish Badiger

It's the law

The Other Side

Anurag Jain, president of Carlton Towers Owners Association, was evasive when asked about the norms that were flouted. "This is not the time to discuss all this. Let us concentrate about the victims and the ways to help them," he said.
As per a Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) building by-law, a building must allow a setback that is proportionate to its height. Carlton Towers is a seven-storied building, and is around 35 metres high. Building norms stipulate that the setback should have been 11 meters, but the compound has a space of hardly 5 meters. To allow surface parking inside the compound, it must have an additional space of 2.5 metres, in addition to the setback. Carlton Towers allowed surface parking in this cramped setback, making it difficult for the fire brigade to park their vehicles. Many people in the building panicked and jumped to their deaths.

"It is illegal to put hoardings inside the compound, but I saw three hoardings on pillars, blocking the way," said Sandhu. At the exit gate, the building administration had fastened a chain to two pillars, to regulate vehicular movement. These pillars were the main hurdles for the fire tenders, which struggled to cross them, even as occupants jumped from the building. Absence of water sprinklers, underground water tank, fire exit indicators were among other shortcomings. The BBMP, which is supposed to inspect these details, before issuing an occupancy certificate (OC) is pointing fingers at the fire service, while the latter puts blame on the former.

"Before we issue an OC the fire services have to issue a objection certificate (NOC) after conducting a thorough inspection, which they had. We have given our nod based on their opinion. Why are they blaming us now?," asked Kumar, assistant engineer, town planning, BBMP.

Protest against BBMP plan to deviate link road

Protest against BBMP plan to deviate link road

Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: The controversy over the construction of a proposed link road through the University of Agricultural Sciences-Bangalore campus by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) took a new turn on Wednesday with the residents of the Canara Bank Layout, adjacent to the university, alleging that the BBMP was now trying to deviate the road through their layout.

About 150 residents, most of them senior citizens, staged a protest in this connection.

Canara Bank Employees’ Layout Residents’ Welfare Association president R.S.D.B. Gowda alleged that the BBMP, under flak from all quarters, was bent on somehow completing the road.

With the university fighting the road tooth and nail, the BBMP was now trying to divide the 80-foot link road into two twin roads with a width of 40 feet at the entrance of the Canara Bank Layout.

One portion would pass through the 3rd Main of the layout, and the other through the 4th Main, flanking a 2.5-acre park.

Terming this as a deviation from the original alignment, Mr. Gowda said it would pose traffic hazards for residents and defeat the purpose of developing the park, the area’s lung space.

The link road, which is bound to have heavy traffic, would pose a risk of accidents as a large number of people, especially senior citizens, use the park for morning and evening walks.

Carlton Towers closed, staff clueless on future

Carlton Towers closed, staff clueless on future

Johnlee Abraham
First Published : 25 Feb 2010 05:08:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 25 Feb 2010 06:59:49 AM IST

BANGALORE: Pieces of glass from the windows that were shattered lie strewn on the ground, so do forgotten shoes and bits of burnt clothes; and not a single person is around.

This was the scene at the Carlton Towers on Wednesday, a day after the fire claimed nine lives and left many injured.

The building is now sealed and shut, and the employees, who worked in the various companies housed here till Tuesday, face an uncertain future as “no one really knows when the buildings will be reopened again”.

“Our company is situated on the fourth floor, but it is sealed now and we even don’t know when the building will be reopened again,” said Satish, an employee with Vaibhav Solutions..

Satish was among the ten people who were stuck on the fourth floor and was rescued by the fire fighers after one and a half hours. However, he was back at the site on Wednesday, hoping to retrieve files and equipments so that he can resume work.

Many others like Satish, who were rescued and were unharmed, visited the site to gather back the sense of being alive.

While many employees expressed hope that the government will reopen the building soon, some are ready to stay away for now. An employee in the hospitality industry said, “The building will be closed for at least a month now, as it will be reopened after the government inquiry and everything.” In the meantime, he will, “Stay at home, what else?” Some others fear that the inquiry process would take a longtime and have decided to move out.

“We just saw a room near the building; it is a much smaller but is enough for a temporary measure,” said the proprietor of a computer repairs company.

The Carton towers house at least 67 offices.

Cops may nab Carlton Towers owner

The police have registered a suo moto case against the ‘unknown owner’ and management of Carlton Towers for causing death by negligence and causing grievous hurt to people, Ulsoor sub-division Assistant Commissioner of Police G B Manjunath told .

“Based on the consolidated report and fact finding from the technical teams, which is expected in three to four days, arrests would be made,” Manjunath said. A technical team from the BBMP, Bescom, PWD, Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), and the Chief Electrical Inspectorate, examined the building.

A KSRP platoon and around 30 local police personnel have been stationed on the premises. The police are clueless about the real owners of the building: the first owner sold it to 96 people about 15 years ago. No damages or casualties have been reported in the BWing that comprises the ground and six upper floors. The accident occurred at the seven-storied A-Wing.

After accident, BBMP wakes up to safety audits

BBMP in co-ordination with the Fire and Emergency Services will conduct fire safety audit regularly in all high-rise buildings in Bangalore.

This initiative was announced, following Tuesday’s major fire at Carlton Towers. BBMP commissioner Bharat Lal Meena told Express, “Tuesday’s fire accident is tragic and the BBMP along with the other agencies including Bescom, fire and police departments, is investigating and the report is expected to be ready by tomorrow.” There are no major building violations and we have issued occupancy certificate after checking that building norms are followed. However, we can come to a conclusion only after the report is prepared and the exact cause of the accident will be known, he said.

But the Palike will take up serious steps to avoid such accidents in the future. The BBMP officials will visit multi-storey buildings to determine possible violations . There will also be safety audits in all the multi storey buildings periodically, he added.

Fire due to negligence: SHRC chief

The death of people in Tuesday’s fire at Carlton Towers is due to negligence and is a violation of human rights, State Human Rights Commissioner (SHRC) S R Nayak said on Wednesday. Nayak visited Carlton Towers and observed “serious lapses on the part of regulatory authorities who failed to insist on safety and protection measures.” SHRC has issued notices to the chief secretary, DGP (fire and emergency services), commissioner of police and BBMP to submit reports and registered a suo moto case. Nayak told Express that in case the reports are not satisfactory and try to cover up the lapses, the SHRC would entrust investigation to a technical agency. “Most probably, we will ask IISc to prepare a report,” Nayak added.

The SHRC chairman said there were several illegal hoardings and generators in the terrace along with 10 barrels of diesel. “Also, the emergency exit was blocked. The causes of the tragedy seem to be defects in the construction.”


3 jumped and 6 choked to death at Carlton Towers on Tuesday ...if only our Fire Force had bought these critical tools post-26/11

The nine Bangaloreans who died at Carlton Towers on Tuesday would have been alive today if only our Fire Force had equipped themselves with these critical tools:
Firemen who rushed to Old Airport Road through dense traffic had no chutes, no cushions, and no equipment to disperse the smoke. They used primitive equipment, and ended up pointing fingers at everyone but themselves.
For over two-and-a-half years, the Fire Force has not been able to decide what equipment to buy, and the indecisiveness cost Bangalore nine lives at Carlton Towers on Tuesday.
Bangalore Mirror investigated the failings of the department during the Carlton Towers fire on HAL Airport Road, and found many shocking lapses. In 2009, Home Minister V S Acharya had told the department to consider buying the best available equipment with the latest technology. The Fire Force bosses ignored him.
If 26\11 in Mumbai was a big eye-opener about the lack of fire-fighting equipment, our Fire Forces have still not learnt their lessons.
If only they had the right kind of equipment, they could have saved many trapped inside, through the aerial, external route. The Karnataka Fire Force, like most fire forces in India, uses hydraulic equipment for mass rescue and evacuation, but experts say such equipment is more suited for industrial use.
Better-equipped fire forces across the world use turntable ladders. The Bengaluru International Airport Limited (BIAL) has one such ladder.
Turntable ladders would have made a world of difference on Bangalore's Dark Tuesday. These are built by three leading manufacturers: Magirus (Germany), Morrita (Japan), and Rosenbauer (Austria). They come in a range of models, and can reach heights of up to 56 metres (18 floors), 40 metres (12), 32 metres (9 floors), and 20 metres (5 floors). Turntable ladders are six times faster than hydraulic machines.
For the Carlton Towers fire, a 32-metre machine would have worked well. The Karnataka Fire Services has an old Magirus machine procured in 1984, and its technology is now outdated.
The new machines in the market have much faster cycle times, and safety features are upgraded and are humanfail safe.
Fire Forces DGP Jija Hari Singh told Bangalore Mirror the department had plans to procure sophisticated equipment, but the Police Housing Corporation was the authority she had to depend on.
“We are pleading with them,’’ she said. Imported items are procured through global tenders.
“We have bought one high-rise Skylift. We have funds available from the Asian Development Bank. We got to know about some of these equipment only today (Tuesday)."
The department had bought six advanced rescue vans fitted with hydraulic cutters. "These can cut through steel and concrete, which is why we were able to rescue so many people. We had to cut open certain doors,’’ she said.

A building with catastrophe written all over the place

A building with catastrophe written all over the place
Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui, Jagadish Angadi, Sandeep Moudgal, B'lore, Feb 24, DHNS

No smoke alarms, faulty water pumps and diesel barrels stored on the roof top. These were some of the safety violations the Fire and Emergency Services Department found during their preliminary investigation of the Carlton Towers on Wednesday.

Fire officials confirmed that people trapped in the Carlton Towers were lucky as eight barrels of diesel that was stored on the rooftop did not catch fire. Without any smoke alarms, people were clueless about what was happening and the sprinklers also failed to function.
Even if they did, the water pump generator was found to be “faulty.” There were no signages either.

The Fire Department had sent 17 vehicles to the spot on Tuesday with 105 men and officers. Karnataka Fire and Emergency Services higher-ups including its DG & IGP Jija Madhavan Hari Singh, IG & ADGP, P S Sandhu, Deputy Director (Technical), Chief Fire Officers and Range Fire Officers inspected the premises for nearly two hours.

The team collected details to ascertain the exact cause of the accident. They tried to identify if there was any breakdown of equipment in the building. All in-built equipment were not functioning when the accident occurred as none of them had used it.

Reason not clear

It is still unclear as to what caused the fire. The fire service officials believe that cable ducts on the second floor started melting before smoke spread to other floors.

As per norms, two mock drills should be conducted in such high-rise buildings once a year, but the norms were not followed at the Towers. The fire force officials would submit a detailed report of their study to the Home Department soon, said B K Hampagol, Deputy Director (Technical). Lamenting that unlike in Delhi, the fire services department in the State did not have suo motu powers to book cases against violators of fire safety norms, Sandhu underscored the need for a periodical joint audit of building norms by the police, fire services and the municipal corporation.

Multiple probes begin

Meanwhile, the Ulsoor police began a separate investigation into the mishap. A team led by ACP (Ulsoor Sub-Division) G B Manjunath was constituted.

“As per the preliminary details, the building was constructed some 15 years ago. The person who constructed the building is said to be living in Chennai. He had sold the building long ago. There are around 90 office spaces. Currently, the Carlton Towers’ Association is managing the building. One Anuraj Jain is the association chief, while Rafiqur Rehman is the Secretary,” said additional Commissioner of Police (Law & Order) M R Pujar.

The police will probe the alleged building plan violations. The team is collecting details such as building plan, approval for construction etc.

It will investigate deviations, if any, from the original plan and measures pertaining to fire safety. The team will seek expert opinion after collecting details.

No consensus

While IT & BT Minister Katta Subramanya Naidu had admitted on Tuesday night that some builders adhere to construction by-laws till they get no objection certificates (NOC) and change the plan after they become functional like Carlton Towers, Transport Minister R Ashok maintained that no such building existed in the City.

However, fire force senior officials said there were several such buildings in the City.
Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said many people were to be held accountable for the tragedy and strict action would be taken against them. “We can see through the naked eyes that norms and regulations were thrown to the winds. It is, no doubt, a man-made tragedy rather than a natural one," he told reporters.

Stressing on the need for better disaster management, he said he would meet the Chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority for discussing ways to avoid such incidents in the future.

Exclusivist penchant

The exclusivist penchant of the individual occupants coupled with heightened security measures in view of the looming terror threat have been blamed for locking the exits and using electricity-operated doors.

Employees of different companies hardly interacted with each other, said F R Sharieff, Regional Fire Officer (East). Companies followed strict entry rules in order to protect their privacy, he added. Owner of the restaurant on the ground floor had reportedly transgressed his limits by constructing a few more rooms and using the corridor around the joint as a store room.

"He had suppressed everyone with his muscle power. He had put up a boutique and another store in the space meant for fire passage," said a source who wished to remain anonymous.

‘Didn't ask people to jump’

Rubbishing reports that the fire personnel had asked panic-stricken employees to jump from the sixth and seventh floors, F R Sharieff claimed that it was the mob which did so.
"We don't do that. It was the onlookers who, holding blankets, had asked people to jump," he told Deccan Herald.

9 new trains for State

9 new trains for State
New Delhi, Feb 24, DHNS:

This year’s Railway Budget has given approval to most of the projects proposed by Karnataka.

A wheel design, development and testing centre at the Wheel Factory in Yelahanka, Bangalore, nine new long-distance trains, a non-stop train from Yeshwantpur to Delhi, three Bharat Tirth trains and three passenger suburban trains are among the important projects for Karnataka announced in the Railway Budget.

Rs 1,200 cr earmarked for railway projects this year

New Delhi, Feb 24, DHNS: Karnataka may not have too much to complain about this year’s Railway Budget as most of the projects proposed by the State Government have been given approval.

A wheel design, development and testing centre at the Wheel Factory in Yelahanka in Bangalore, nine new long distance trains including a Duranto, a non-stop train from Yeshwantpur to Delhi, three Bharat Tirth trains, three passenger suburban trains, construction of new railway line between Bagalkot and Kudachi are among the important projects for Karnataka announced in the Railway Budget.

With the long term plan of achieving self sufficiency, the design centre will be set up at the existing railway wheel factory at Yelahanka, Banerjee said in her speech. This year, the State will receive Rs 1,200 crore for various projects and the ministry has approved the Karnataka Government’s proposal to share 50 per cent of the project cost.

As much as Rs 544 crore has been allotted for the construction of new lines, an amount of Rs 86 crore is earmarked for gauge conversion and Rs 25 crore will be spent for doubling of lanes.

Apart from this, another Rs 32 crore has been allocated for building 14 railway overbridges or underbridges in Bangalore city and other places. For the first time in recent history, survey for 12 new lines will be conducted, which includes connecting popular pilgrim places Sringeri, Moodbidri, Dharmastala and Kollur.

The approval for a new line between Bagalkot and Kudachi, which is long pending, will be a major relief to the people from this region. The survey of the project was completed almost two decades ago and it was also found that the route was commercially viable with a 19 per cent of return against the national average of 14 per cent.

Woe redressal

By announcing the doubling of lanes between Hosdurga road to Chikjajur and Hospet-Hubli-Londa-Vasco-De-Gama, the railway minister has addressed some major woes of mining companies who have been demanding the implementation of this project to ensure hassle-free transportation of iron ore to ports.

Minister of State for Railway K H Muniyappa, who complained to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against his senior colleague for not allotting sufficient works to him, has expressed happiness over the projects sanctioned to the State.

“Mamata Banerjee has approved 90 per cent of the proposal submitted by the Karnataka except extension of the Bangalore-Mangalore train to Karwar and Bangalore to Kachiguda (Andhra Pradesh). These two proposals will be implemented in the coming days”, he said.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Taming the wild bunch

Taming the wild bunch
By: Madhusudan Maney Date: 2010-02-23 Place: Bangalore

After two Iranian girls assaulted policemen for stopping them during a drunken drive campaign, city cops decide to go tough on unruly traffic offenders

Be careful before you deal with policemen henceforth. For stung by two incidents of the public assaulting policemen in three days, the cops have decided to act tough and maintain a no-nonsense attitude.

Police ki pitai: Two cops are manhandled by the public on an average day in the city. Representational pic

The decision comes after cops were assaulted first by two Iranian girls when they were stopped during a drunken drive campaign on Thursday, and again when a youth was stopped for riding without a helmet on Saturday. Mid Day question several policemen across the city, and this is what they had to say:

"Public manhandling police is not a new issue in the city. Many such incidents have occurred, but were taken very lightly. Police have taken up such type of issues only when it reached to a peak," a traffic policeman said.

Not the first time

Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security) Praveen Sood confirmed, "This is not the first time that some one has assaulted a cop. On an average, we come across two such incidents in a month. Henceforth, if any one tries to manhandle or misbehave with the police, serious action will be taken against them."

He added, "Public must cooperate with the police. They don't follow rules and try to take law in their own hands. They break traffic rules, and when caught, they pay a fine, and are let go easily, which shouldn't happen."

Equality before law

Traffic Expert Prof M N Sreehari said, "Just because they are foreigners, they should not be let off easily. A person committing crime on our soil should be punished seriously. If they are let free, we'll be thought off as too lenient. Automatically, the crime rate will increase and even the locals will take it lightly, and the police will be considered useless. The city will become another Bihar."

Mahalakshmi Layout Police Inspector Anil Kumar H R said, "Prem Kumar was produced in the court today and has been remanded to judicial custody until 26th of this month."

Sub Inspector Kumaraswamy added, "Kumar was not riding the bike, but his friend Jagadish was. When I stopped and questioned Jagadish about the defective number plate and altered silencer, Prem Kumar intervened and created a scene. He punched me on my chest when asked for documents. It was then that the public came to my rescue and helped me nab him."

Carlton cut corners, costing lives

Carlton cut corners, costing lives
Bangalore, Feb 23, DHNS:

Gross violations of safety regulations may have cost many lives at Carlton Towers.

According to the National Building Code of India (NCBI), every high rise needs to have open space that is a third the size of the building. “But in the case of Carlton Towers and others, we have seen severe violations of these rules,” said an officer of the Fire and Emergency Services.

Illegal hoardings

There were illegal hoardings, a canteen and other unauthorised constructions including building pillars encroaching the space. The NCBI specifically mentions a proper and continuous means of egress (a pathway to safety) as one of the foremost precautions to be taken. In the case of Carlton, it seemed to be totally lacking.

“So much so, we had trouble in entering the building to save the people and help them to safety,” said the officer.

No mock drills

Another concern that has been raised due to the electrical short circuit in the towers is the absence of mock fire drills.

“As many as 300-400 people work in Carlton Towers. But most did not even have a basic knowledge of the topography of the building,” said the officer.

The fire has raised questions about safety measures in high rise buildings in the City. While there are rules and regulations that need to be adhered to during the construction phase, including a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Fire and Emergency Services Department, authorities state that most safety measures are found wanting. It was the third major high rise fire disaster in the City in the last six months.

No annual inspections

Perhaps the biggest concern is the annual inspection of the buildings in the City by the Emergency services officials. According to Fire Department sources, the Emergency Department has no powers of annual inspection.

“Once a building has been given an NOC at the time of construction, we have no authority to inspect the building again. In the absence of a proper by-law, our lack of powers gives enough leeway to building owners to indulge in violations,” said a Fire Department official.

Mahesh Bhatnagar, Director Sales and Marketing, Underwriters Laboratory (UL), a global safety certification company, said that during a situation such as the one that arose in the Carlton Towers, there needs to be two things that need to be checked.

“First, according to the NCBI rules, there needs to be a “semi-pressurised” zone between the room and staircase. Second, the place needs to have smoke blowers or fans in place for the air to be retained in the staircase,” Bhatnagar said. Along with this a “Fire resisting wall” that separates one area in a building from another also does not seem to be have been in place.

The other safety rule is to have proper “Roof Exits” in a place which can be accessed from the ground and is adequately cut off from the staircases in the building. Whether the Carlton Towers did have these safety measures is a question that will require some answers.

No entry for people at Bonsai Park

No entry for people at Bonsai Park

Y Maheswara Reddy
First Published : 24 Feb 2010 05:10:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 24 Feb 2010 07:02:10 AM IST

BANGALORE: The much hyped and publicised Bonsai Park at Lalbagh has remained closed to public for years. Many visitors to Lalbagh, especially the Kempe Gowda Tower, are not even aware that there is a Bonsai Park there. The park has just existed on papers since 2002.

The Department of Horticulture organised a foundation stone laying ceremony on August 9, 2002 for the proposed HS Seetharam Rathnamma Bonsai Park on a 2.5 acre area. The then Minister for Horticulture, M Shivanna, laid the foundation stone while Allum Veerabhadrappa, the then KPCC president was the chief guest.

The Department of Horticulture spent lakhs of rupees for the Bonsai Park.

However, no official has taken the initiative to open the park to the public.

The objective of the park was to provide training in Bonsai for those interested.

The development work is under progress even after eight years.

‘Bonsai’ Srinivas, who donated Bonsai saplings and tropical trees to the park on the condition that the park be named after his parents HS Seetharam and Rathnamma, is regretting his action.

“They promised they will name the park after my parents. They even put up a board but removed it after a few years. They even stopped the honorarium of Rs 15,000 to me that was promised by the then director of Horticulture Department,” said Srinivas.

Many people who visit the Kempe Gowda Tower at Lalbagh want to visit the park but in vain. “What is the point in having such a beautiful gate for the Bonsai Park which remains closed forever?” asked Prashanth P, a visitor at the Lalbagh.

An employee at the ‘Bonsai Park said, “We take out around 200 plants for display during the flower show once a year. The public are not allowed inside the park since the development work is under progress.” However, Minister for Horticulture and Prisons, Umesh Katti, has promised to direct the Director of Horticulture Department to open the Bonsai Park for public from Monday. “I was not aware of the closure of the Bonsai Park. I will take measures to keep the park open,” Umesh Katti assured.

Nine jump to death as fire engulfs carlton tower

Nine jump to death as fire engulfs carlton tower

Express News Service
First Published : 24 Feb 2010 04:15:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 24 Feb 2010 07:04:57 AM IST

BANGALORE: Nine people, including three women, were killed on Tuesday evening when a major fire broke out at the seven- storied Carlton Towers — home to 50 offices and four hotels — at the upscale Indiranagar area of the city. At least 68 people are injured, 19 of them critically, say officials.

All the nine casualties were those, who in a state of panic, jumped from the upper floors of the building, say sources at the Manipal Hospital, where seven were brought dead and two succumbed to injuries.

P S Sandhu, IGP Fire and Emergency Services said, “The electrical duct at the centre of the tower is suspected to have caught fire with the smoke spreading from the opening of every floor. However, the smoke was thick on the fifth and the sixth floors.” Fifteen fire tenders were rushed to the spot when the first distress call was made shortly after 5 pm. However, it took about 30 minutes for the first of the fire engines to reach the site negotiating the peak evening traffic. Fire personnel said that a huge crowd had gathered around the building delaying a swift evacuation operation.

Officials say safety measures were in place but people did not know where the fire exits were. Director, Fire and Emergency, B G Chengappa said: “Everybody was accustomed to using the elevator. They did not even know fire exits were in place.” There are also unconfirmed reports of fire exits being locked.

Dr Sudharshan Ballal, Medical Director of Manipal Hospital, where the injured are admitted, told reporters that his hospital had sent ambulances and 1,000 masks soon after the alert. He said that the 19 critical patients are suffering from the effects of asphyxiation and not external burns. The injured also include three fire fighters.

Fire fighters say that by the time they reached the spot, passersby had started an improvised rescue operation.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

BWSSB proposes big hike in water tariff

BWSSB proposes big hike in water tariff
Bangalore, Feb 22, DH News Service:

A proposed 11.5 per cent hike in water tariff may be imposed soon on Bangaloreans, who are already reeling under an acute power crisis and a daily water shortage of 300 million litres.

The increase in tariff has been proposed by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) to compensate for the excess expenditure incurred due to the recent hike in power charges.

The State government is yet to take a final decision, but the BWSSB is ready with its rationale for the hike. Board chairperson P B Ramamurthy said the BWSSB is incurring an additional expenditure of Rs 2.5 crore on the bills to be paid to BESCOM every month due to the increase in power bills.

“The annual expenditure towards power bills was Rs 260 crore earlier, but the increase in power tariff has now shot up this expense by 11.5 per cent now,” Ramamurthy explained at a talk arranged by the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) here.

Water needs to be pumped to the City from a distance of 100 kilometres.

The board, he said, is helpless. The burden has to be passed on to consumers. That means the Bangalorean has no escape from the summer woes, compounded by the power crisis.

Currently, the minimum water tariff is Rs 45 for water consumption up to a maximum of 8,000 litres a month, according to BWSSB spokesman Prahlad Rao.

Augmenting supply

The board has also recommended to the government two concrete steps to augment drinking water supply.

“To ensure additional supply of water to Bangalore apart from Stage IV and Phase II, we have asked the State to ensure an additional 12 TMC feet of water from the Cauvery,” Ramamurthy said.

A proposal has also been made to divert West-flowing rivers and tap the water from them.

The City is now reeling under a shortage of 300 million litres per day. The level in the T G Halli reservoir, which caters to the water requirements of West Bangalore, is just 20 feet out of its total capacity of 74 feet.

This is a 12-foot reduction in water level compared to the readings in the previous year. The completion of the Rs 3,384-crore Cauvery Stage IV Phase II project by the end of 2011 will ensure an additional 500 million litres of water per day for the City.

Power worries

FKCCI president J Crasta said the frequent power shutdowns in the State during the last one week is proving to be disastrous for the industry.

“Industries all over the State are incurring a loss of Rs 1 crore per day due to the erractic supply,” he added.

Ramamurthy said the BWSSB would set up 10 additional sewerage treatment plants.
“At the moment, we have the capacity to treat 721 million litres of sewerage but only around 346 million litres are being treated as the rest go to storm water drains,” he said.
He also said the government would soon implement a zero sewerage zone project in the Hebbal valley in the city.

Lakeview will return to M G Road

Lakeview will return to M G Road

Bangalore: Sweltering heat and frequent power cuts are reasons enough to dampen your spirits. Never mind, though, for here’s some cheerful news. The legendary Lakeview restaurant, famous for its variety of ice creams, is reopening on M G Road after a hiatus of three years.
The 80-year-old unit known for its ‘drive-in’ service shut down on July 31, 2007. After relocating to St Mark’s Road, it is set to reopen at the newly constructed Kannan building in the next few days.
The opening, due last Friday, was delayed due to technical issues in construction of the new premises. “The scaffolding hasn’t been taken off and there are minor details remaining,” hotel proprietor Deepak Vrajilal said.
Also, frequent power cuts in the area have proven to be a setback, warranting use of a generator. “The authorities are reluctant to allow use of generator for only one unit in the building, fearing wastage. However, the issues will be settled in a couple of days,” Vrajilal said.
Besides the original fare of ice creams, burgers, pizzas, milkshakes and salads, Lakeview plans to expand the menu to include sugar-free cakes and ice creams, and more options for continental breakfast.


While residents are fretting over unscheduled, long power cuts, industries say they can’t bank on back-up for long
Jayashree Nandi & A T Subrahmanya | TNN

For industries and commercial establishments in Bangalore, power shortage is not just about a few dark hours but the huge amount of money spent on diesel and generator sets. If the situation worsens, some industries in Peenya may have to stop working as gensets cannot handle the huge load.
For two hours of power cut, 25-30 litres of diesel are used, not to mention the pollution it causes. Commercial establishments on Brigade Road, Commercial Street and M G Road also deal with power cuts during peak shopping days.
“Recently, there was no power for around three days. I have a back-up generator and other establishments have small portable ones, but the noise and fumes make it uncomfortable. We’re spending a lot of money on gensets. We have made a request to the government to exclude commercial establishments at least on peak shopping days like weekends,” said Brigade Shops and Establishments Association secretary Suhail Yusuf.
The scene is no different on Commercial Street. “In the past 10 days, there have been power cuts of 3-5 hours every day. It’s so hot and shoppers find it extremely uncomfortable. After sunset, it’s pitch dark in the bylanes. That becomes a safety issue too. Every shop spends at least Rs 500 on petrol and diesel,” said vice-president of Commercial Street Traders’ Association Ajay Motwani.
Peenya, Bangalore’s industrial hub with about 4,500 industries, has come to a standstill. “The situation is very bad. If there are 3-4 hour power cuts or even intermittent power supply, continuous processing units like plastics, powder coating, planting and heat treatment will come to a standstill and material is wasted. It will have to be reheated again for 3-4 hours. In the regular product industries also, the condition is pathetic. There is loss of labour wages. Some functions cannot be supported by generators as the load is huge,” said N V Subrayappa, manager, Peenya Industries Association.
The Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) is keen on staggering weekly offs for the industries. “God save us. If this is the condition in the beginning of summer, one can very well imagine the situation in mid-summer. The hydel power stations will be totally powerless as reservoirs are drying up and thermal power stations are in a shambles. Generators are out of order because of the huge load,” FKCCI president J Crasta told TOI.
Urging the government to use smart meters, he added: “They can’t even go for staggered holidays because the feeders are not separate. They should adapt staggered power supply for the entire state.”
There is a sharp spike in demand for diesel generator sets. Many establishments are already enjoying a 35% to 40% increase in demand. The price of gensets ranges from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 70 lakh.
“Enquiries have gone up by at least 40% in the past 30-40 days. Many are looking for smaller sets which cost around Rs 1.75 lakh. It’s natural because power cuts have been really terrible over the past few days,” said a sales representative of RP Industries. Diesel costs around Rs 39 per litre.
The sales force of Kirloskar Electric Company said they are expecting a hike in sales by 20%. “Every month, we sell 400 to 500 sets. This month there have been many enquiries and we expect a hike in sales next month,” a representative said. Shopkeepers said there have been many queries because people want to buy the DG set before the budget.
We will manage: Jairaj
The unscheduled power cuts have left the government frantically looking out for options and buying power at exorbitant amounts. But K Jairaj, principal secretary (energy) is confident they will manage as effectively as last year. He shared his plans to deal with the current crisis with TOI:
Why unscheduled power cuts suddenly?
That’s because demand shot up to around 138 MU with summer setting in. There was a sharp drop in supply both in the state and the Centre of around 500 MW. This huge disparity in demand and supply is the problem.
What is the solution?
We have started buying power, 300 MW from Jindal and Reliance. We are processing power barter from NTPC to bridge this gap. The chief minister has also decided to buy 400 MW. We are spending Rs 500 crore.
On its part, the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd is trying to popularize off-grid renewable energy options. However, we need grid-connected power. We are confident things will be in control and we’ll effectively manage like last year. By Marchend things will be in shape. TNN

Dark, dry, hot days ahead

Dark, dry, hot days ahead
Bangalore reeling under unscheduled power cuts
Jayashree Nandi & A T Subrahmanya | TNN

Bangalore: Though the city is experiencing unscheduled power cuts, Bescom wants the citizens to believe it is not so. This is what Bescom MD Tushaar Girinath had to tell TOI on Monday: “There have been no unscheduled power cuts for the past two days. The situation has improved.’’
But on Monday, residents of several areas complained of sudden power cuts disrupting their daily routine. Power disruptions have made nearly 4,500 industries in Peenya hit a roadblock in production. FKCCI president J Crasta said: “We are losing nearly Rs 1 crore per day due to unscheduled power cuts..’’
Principal secretary (energy) K Jairaj offers some hope: “We are buying 300 MW power from Jindal and Reliance. We have decided to barter power from NTPC. So the situation should improve by March end.’’
But what happened to chief minister B S Yeddyurappa’s promise to students that the government will not cause inconvenience to students during the exam period?
Demand for power goes up to 138 million units (MU) Shortage is 500 MW Residents face unscheduled power cuts Bescom says situation has improved

Citizens do the good, persuade BMTC to introduce two buses

Citizens do the good, persuade BMTC to introduce two buses
Reluctant to drive their cars all the way from their homes in the Sarjapur-Haralur belt to their offices in Electronics City...

Residents of Bellandur have got Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) to introduce two new routes in their area as part of their campaign to get more people to use public transport.
The services, 340Q and 341H, were introduced last week. The 340Q bus goes from St John's Hospital at Koramangala to Electronics City via Kasavanahalli and Hosa Road (Jail Road). The 341H bus goes from St John's Hospital to Electronics City via Haralur Road. The buses were introduced due to the persistence of Forward 150, a federation of around 25 resident associations covering Green Glen layout, Haralur, Kaikondrahalli, Kasavanahalli, Junnasandra, Dodda Kannalli, Ambalipura, Kadubeesanahalli, KPTCL Layout and Challaghatta.
Manjunath Madurappa, a Forward 150 member and Ambalipura resident, says, "So far, people in the Sarjapur-Haralur belt had no choice but to drive to their offices in Electronics City. Now, they have an alternative."
BMTC is doing its bit to popularise the services. Wilson Lobo, Depot Manager, HSR Layout says, "We are placing flex boards and putting up posters in the area. To persuade people to keep their cars at home, we have deployed high-end buses."
Murali Devaram, a resident of Reliable Residency, says, "So far, there was no bus from Haralur to Koramangala or Electronics City where I have my office. This service saves a lot of time."
IT professional Sudhakar Pai, who works with Logica, says, "I have been taking 341H for the last two days. I find it very convenient. I am happy to leave my car at home, as driving is very stressful."
St John's Hospital, Jakkasandra, Agara, Kaikondrahalli, Kasavanahalli, Parappana Agrahara police station, New MICO Road, Hosur Road, Electronics City, Infosys parking lot, Shikaripalya.
St.John's Hospital, Jakkasandra, Agara, Haralur, Kudlu, AECS Layout, Hosur Road Junction, Konappana Agrahara, Electronics City, Infosys parking lot, Shikaripalya.

Sip hot coffee on ride to BIA

Sip hot coffee on ride to BIA

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Air passengers, morning cup of coffee or breakfast, will soon be able to enjoy them on board the Volvo buses taking them to the airport.
A full-fledged catering service is being planned on all the Volvo buses going to the airport as the BMTC is satisfied with the response to the commudine pantry service introduced on eight Vajra buses as an experi- ment in July 2009 on the ITPL, Electronics City and BIA routes.

The buses, which operate between 6 am and 11.30 pm, will be able to serve refreshments to people catching an early morning or late night flight in the one hour that it takes to reach the airport, explains a BMTC official.

Passengers will have a choice from idlis, dosas and burgers, besides tea, coffee and soup, all priced reason- ably to suit their purses.

"We are in talks with the commudine service provider to set up pantries in all the 63 Vayu Varja buses.
The service will be intro- duced once the price is worked out," he adds.

Regular air travellers are expectedly happy with the plan to serve them food on board the buses enroute to the airport.

"It will be nice to be able to enjoy a cup of coffee or a snack on the buses early morning," says one such commuter Promila Mukhe- jree. But there are apprehen- sions the buses may begin to smell or get infested with rats once the pantry services begin unless the BMTC cleans them every day.

The corporation, however, puts such apprehensions to rest, assuring that that pas- sengers will have no cause for complaint on this front.

Residents feel pressure as this flyover leads to chaos

Residents feel pressure as this flyover leads to chaos

Vaishalli Chandra. Bangalore

Flyovers are meant to avert the criss-crossing of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. But residents of Maruthi Seva Nagar won't agree as the structures standing near their area have only added to their traffic woes.
The Maruthi Seva Nagar flyover connects Banaswadi Main Road to localities such as Kammannahalli, OMBR Layouts, HRBR, and Ramamurthy Nagar, bringing a lot of commuters into the busy city area.
However, the flyover has led to more problems than solutions to commuters. "There's congestion on the flyover during peak hours," says Ranganath Sadasiva, a member of the Maruthi Sevanagar Welfare Association.
The flyover was constructed to avoid long wait of vehicles at the railway signal. But it has not helped commuters much. On the flyover too, they are made to wait for five to 20 minutes. Traffic jams are common as the flyover is narrow, and the two-way traffic moves in a single file.
Another problem is the area below the flyover, which has been reduced to a parking zone. "There is a theatre adjacent to the flyover and film-goers park their vehicles in this area," says Sadasiva.
For residents of Maruthi Seva Nagar, the road below the flyover connects to Banaswadi Main Road. With parked vehicles blocking their way, the residents, especially women, children, and elders, find it difficult to reach the main road.
Commercial establishments are also hit. "Shops near the foot of the flyover have no choice as parking pressure is spilling over to the empty expanse beneath the flyover," says Joshua Peter, a resident.
Amid the congestion, some motorists confuse you by taking U-turns near Bharathinagar which precedes Maruthi Seva Nagar. Sometimes, the traffic jam is so bad that it stretches to half a kilometre on the road before the flyover.
The traffic bottleneck is the worst at the foot of the flyover, where the narrow road leads to an even narrow flyover. Potholes on the flyover also make it difficult for motorists to navigate. Bikers are at risk and the stretch is accident-prone .
Residents say the growth of localities such as HRBR, Kammanahalli, and HBR is adding pressure on this stretch.
"Even traffic cops cannot come to the rescue. They can only ensure that people don't jump the lanes or take U-turns," says Sadasiva.
Poor waste management is raising a stench in the area. Although residents are happy that garbage collectors come regularly, they object to the collection point, which is at the entrance to the locality. This causes a lot of inconvenience for them as throughout the morning, the collectors keep segregating waste. It is an eyesore for office-goers.
As the mercury is rising, residents are also concerned about the summer ahead. They say water supply has been erratic for the last two months

Home dreams recede further

Home dreams recede further

Attack on BDA officials at Kodigehalli sends ominous signals, say observers

Bosky Khanna

With the farmers' agitation intensifying against the acquisition of farm lands, the dream of owning a site seems to be turning into a mirage for hundreds of Bangaloreans.
On the other hand, resistance to acquisition of farm lands has now forced the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) to tread more carefully in implementing its Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Layout.
The attack on BDA officials, who went to Kodigehalli on Monday to conduct total station survey for the final notification for the formation of Kempegowda Layout, sends ominous signals. Following this, experts say that people may have to wait longer to get a site as the present land owner is not happy with the compensation package and does not want to part with his possession.
Since 2005, when Arkavathi Layout was notified, 2.5 lakh aspirants applied for sites. And they are still waiting. A major part of the layout is currently under dispute with many cases pending in various courts. According to BDA's 2004 plan, Arkavathi Layout was to be formed across 2,750 acres covering 16 villages in Yelahanka and Varthur constituencies. A preliminary notification was issued on February 3, 2003 to develop 3,839 acres and the final notification was issued on March 22, 2004 to develop 2,750 acres of land. The BDA aimed to make the biggest layout in north-east with a budget of Rs940 crore.
While most part of Arkavathi Layout is under litigation in Supreme Court, part of 22.49 acres is under high court litigation. These areas were earlier handed over to the Metropolitan Housing Cooperative Society to form 141 sites. At present, eight acres are free from litigation. BDA had sold 2.5 lakh applications and proposed to develop 20,000 sites in the layout but was able to allocate only 9,810 and 3,000 sites in two batches in 2005 and 2006, respectively.
"The cases of Arkavathi Layout and Kempegowda Layout are different. Work on Arkavathi Layout has been stalled not only because it is under litigation from the land owners but also due to political reasons. It is now a challenge before the BDA to offer a great deal of compensation to the land owners,'' said V Ravichandar, chairman and managing director of Feedback.
"The success of BDA in forming layouts will depend on the land acquisition and equitable compensation to land owners. But this is a big challenge. Farmers are wondering whether it is fair that the land owner is getting a compensation amount lesser than market rate. The BDA should thus think of a fair deal. It is not a jinx but a reality and wake-up call. Unless you get the land acquisition and ratio right, this will continue," he added.
Adding to this, civic expert Samuel Paul said that the dispute was arising because people thought that they were not getting the right compensation. There had been an effort to establish market prices and minimise conflicts, but to what extent it should be, was yet to be ascertained, he said.
It is not that BDA has failed in the formation of layouts; it has formed many of them. Some are still in its possession and are yet to be handed over to Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike. They are Visvesvaraya Layout and its extension, Banashakari 6th Stage and its extension and Anjanapura Layout and its extension.
"One cannot assume that the process of formation of layouts is jinxed or the sites have become a mirage. The BDA, along with Karnataka Industrial Development Board (KIADB), has formed 66 layouts offering 1.40 lakh sites. We are now requesting the government to clear the process of formation of layouts faster so that citizens get sites. Litigation in case of Arkavathi Layout is an isolated case and cannot be compared with Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Layout and the incident,'' said BDA commissioner Siddhaiah.
BDA plans to develop five layouts in different parts of the city and allot 1.76 lakh sites to people of various dimensions under the Comprehensive Development Plan. While Kempegowda Layout got clearance from the government for final notification on February 16, 2010, K Shivaram Karanth Layout still remains in the preliminary notification stage.

Bengaluru roads most unsafe

Bengaluru roads most unsafe

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After being dubbed the `Suicide Capital' of the country, Bengaluru has now been officially declared as the city that has the most unsafe roads in the country. It has the highest number of road accidents in the country, says a government report, `Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India 2008'.
The report, prepared with the latest available statis tics from the National Crime Records Bureau, shows that 7,773 accidents were reported in Beng- aluru in 2008. Experts say this is reflective of the sudden growth of the city which has roads that are not able to handle the volume of traffic it now generates. "The increasing densi- ty of traffic on the narrow roads in the city is one of the reasons why there are so m a n y accidents here," says Nimhans RMO V.L. Sateesh.
The city's pub culture and drunken driving are additional fac- tors, the doctor adds, noting that Nimhans receives about 10 cases of road acci- dents on an average every day. Experts say many buses have been introduced in the city, adding to the traffic congestion and caus- ing more mishaps.

"A lot of buses have been introduced on various routes, but they are still not being utilised as people pre- fer to use their own vehi- cles. This is causing traffic pile-ups and accidents," an expert says.