Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pedestrians become tense as they tread this stretch

Pedestrians become tense as they tread this stretch

Senthalir S. Bangalore

Residents of Craig Layout on MG Road are facing a bad time. The work on Trinity Metro station has cut them off. Now they cannot take out their vehicles. Even walking has become risky.
"The roads and pavements are dug up. It looks like a Mohenjo-daro site. We're helpless," says Deepika Govind, a designer and resident of Craig Layout.
As station work is going on in full pace, the road from Webbs Circle to Trinity Circle has been closed for vehicles. Workers wearing yellow helmets are busy moving iron rods piled up on pavements while cranes haul up large moulds used for concreting the pillars. As these heavy vehicles keep moving construction material, the road near Nalli Silks gets coated with a thick layer of fine dust. And the moment you step on it, a cloud of dust rises spoiling your dress and polluting the air.
"There is no place here for pedestrians. One has to tread one's way between pillars, barricades and piles of construction material," says Deepika angrily.
During the construction of Delhi Metro, at least one side of the road was kept open for pedestrians. Here it's not so, she adds.
Pedestrians coming from Trinity Junction have to scale a small barricade made of tin sheet a few yards before Nalli Silks. But if they take a wrong step, they will trip and fall into a pit dug up by workers on the other of the barricade.
The only good thing to emerge from the Metro work is for motorists. The road under the Metro bridge has turned into an impromptu parking space. Motorists don't have to pay parking fee till the work is completed. But it has deprived many the facility of driving up to their offices and parking their vehicles in the official parking lots. They are also finding it difficult to reach their office without getting their clothes soiled.
"I work in Canara-HSBC life insurance firm located next to Nalli Silks. We now park our vehicles under the metro bridge and walk through the dusty stretch to reach my office. Sometimes, when I return from work, I find that my vehicle has been towed away by traffic police," says a youth who does not want to be named.
Rajesh Krishna, another commuter, wants the parking space to be increased so that vehicles are not towed away.
"There are many banks and other offices located on this stretch. It's unsafe to walk late in the evening along this stretch amid construction work. The excavated mud strewn on pavements is adding to the pollution," says Raja, an employee working in the area.
A few companies have assigned their security guards to manage the vehicles of their employees on the road. "We allow parking space only if the motorists show their identity cards," says Kamal Sharma, a security guard of WCS.
A senior official with Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited says the government has approved the closure of the road till May-end. "The station work is going on. Work on launching girders, and erection of staging for other works will be carried out simultaneously," says he.
There will be some inconvenience to public. "But we are taking all measures to speed up the work. It will be completed by May-end," he adds

Mandatory voting move infuriates RWAs

Mandatory voting move infuriates RWAs

Sunitha Rao R. Bangalore

Chief minister BS Yeddyurappa has ordered a detailed study on voter apathy in the recent BBMP elections and is mulling over making voting mandatory. But active residents' welfare associations (RWAs) in the city have raised a voice of dissent.
NS Mukunda, president of Citizens Action Forum (CAF) on Tuesday said that the chief minister's statement was unconstitutional. "It is a democracy. The chief minister cannot impose mandates like compulsory franchise of votes. There is a provision in the election rules where a voter can reject all the candidates. Section 49(0) of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, must be implemented," Mukunda said.
Section 49(0) allows a person to go to a polling booth, register his/her presence by signing and then not vote for any candidate. Such votes are recorded by the presiding officer and are considered rejection of all candidates in the fray.
Mukunda said there was a necessity to update and cleanse the voters' list. "It is a systemic failure, which has added to poor voter response. Errors on the list keep voters away," he said.
Mukunda's name itself was missing from the voters' list though he has voted several times and holds an EPIC card. "I had cross-checked the list long back and submitted a Form 6 twice to the BBMP official concerned. Through constant queries and follow ups I made sure that my name was included on the list and that I could vote," Mukunda said.
On Thursday, the CAF and RWA members had an informal meeting with core members. "We are going to support RWA members who will contest the assembly election," Mukunda said, adding that lack of good candidates also affected the voter turnout.
"Only 15 wards had RWA members contesting the poll, who were educated candidates. The rest of the wards suffered from lack of worthy candidates. The CAF had met all major political parties before the election asking them to field educated, capable candidates. But they shunned us," Mukunda said.

Some areas face 6-hr power cut

Some areas face 6-hr power cut

Bangalore: Many areas of the city plunged into darkness on Tuesday. Power cuts in some areas extended even up to six hours.
Sajjan Raj Mehta of Basavanagudi called up this paper to say: “From morning to evening, there was a two-hour cut. Then, power went at 8 pm and we are still in the dark. My daughter has II PUC exam on Wednesday. I was so worried that I called up the Bescom MD and all KV operators in the area. They said they will think of a change-over. But nothing has happened yet,” he told this paper at 10 pm.
Another fuming citizen from Horamavu Agara said there were cuts six times during the day, one hour each. “I, as a dutiful citizen, voted. And, is this what the government is giving me in return?” he said. “Tell the CM that it is 23/7 power cuts and not power, that is happening now,” said Srikumar from Kattriguppe, whose area suffered cuts at regular intervals throughout the day. Residents of RT Nagar, too, complained of power cuts. NEEDED DESPERATELY: RAIN
Only That’ll Save Us From Severe Power Cuts
Bangalore: If you think the power situation in Karnataka is bad, steel yourself for worse over the next two weeks as reservoir levels are expected to plummet, resulting in lower generation by hydel stations.
The storage levels in major reservoirs remain below 30% of their capacity. “Only copious rain can save the state from power cuts,’’ said a senior energy department official.
This apart, scarcity of fuels, including coal, gas and uranium, is seriously affecting power generation. This has resulted in restriction in availability of power, especially from the Karwar power plant which has generation capacity of well over 1,000 MW.
Also, about five units at thermal power stations in Raichur and Bellary are down due to technical snags. “It may take 2 or 3 days to make them operational again,’’ officials added.
So, where does that leave chief minister B S Yeddyurappa’s announcement about buying 350 MW from sugar mills? Officials said it was “just a tip of the iceberg’’. They said the current power deficit is over 20 Million Units. On an average, the demand is about 140 MU. But, according to officials, the deficit is sometimes even 30 MU with provision for load shedding.
Even as the demand for power increases by the day, the state finds itself in a situation where it cannot buy additional power, simply because distribution companies (Escoms) are also fundstarved. They’ve run out of the available credit from banks. But more than the money, officials say the possibility of purchasing power from other states is bleak. States who want additional power should have reserved these power corridors around January.
If the government buys power, it would have to spend about Rs 12 crore a day to bridge the deficit of 20 MU at the rate of Rs 8-Rs 10 per unit as it did during the run-up to the BBMP polls. In this period, the state paid a steep price for power, leaving a mammoth burden of nearly Rs 100 crore on the exchequer.
This power was purchased from the private sector. Postpoll, the state cannot afford to purchase power at such rates. Officials said there was no other option left: “Rotational power cuts cannot be avoided under any circumstances.’’

Summer rain cools simmering city

Summer rain cools simmering city

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 31 Mar 2010 04:08:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 31 Mar 2010 07:44:08 AM IST
BANGALORE: Bangaloreans heaved a sigh of relief on Tuesday, as the skies opened up and cooled the city that was experiencing unprecedented hot weather this summer. The Met department has predicted that the situation may continue to be the same for another day or two.
"These are pre-monsoon showers which we usually receive around this time,” said Raje Gowda, agrimet scientist at the University of Agriculture Sciences. He said that this trend would continue till May with periodic gaps.
B Puttanna, director, Met department said, “Rain or thundershowers will occur in the city in some areas, towards evening or night. The maximum and minimum temperatures will be around 35 and 23 degree Celsius respectively". As for the state, Puttanna said, “Light to moderate rain will occur at isolated places in Gulbarga and Bidar districts of North Karnataka and all districts of south interior Karnataka.

Parks may turn parking lots for corporators

Multi-level parking only after two years
Parks may turn parking lots for corporators
Sandeep Moudgal, Bangalore, March 30, DH News Service :

When Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) corporators park themselves inside the council hall, where do you think they’ll park their vehicles? Where else, but the adjacent Cubbon Park and Banappa Park!

With an anticipated 270 members expected to sit at the first council session after a gap of four years in the BBMP headquarters, the authorities are now contemplating taking Cubbon Park and Banappa Park parking slots for the corporators.

According to the Palike officials, these public spaces are just a stone’s throw away from the council building at Hudson Circle and should be convenient for the corporators, the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and the BBMP officials themselves, apart from the MPs and MLAs to utilise the parking areas.

“With very little space of our own, parking is a big problem,” admitted a BBMP official. To address these woes, BBMP had proposed a seven storeyed multi-level parking area in the vacant land behind their headquarters. But the project will take a minimum of two years to come up as the Detailed Project Report (DPR) is expected to be tabled when the council is in session. However, the number of vehicles expected to increase from next month has put the BBMP in a spot. “That is one reason why we are planning to provide dedicated locations for the corporators in the nearby parks,” said the official.

Accordingly, Banappa Park and Cubbon Park will be used as the corporators’ parking bay. “We may also use the Mission Road as a parking area for these sitting corporators. But a definite call has to be taken,” said the official. The BBMP will provide a vehicle pass for the corporators to park their four-wheelers and two-wheelers.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Skywalks, escalators to offer pedestrians respite

Skywalks, escalators to offer pedestrians respite

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Skywalks and subways around malls in the city can ensure safety of pedestrians and smooth traffic flow on the roads

BBMP does have a couple of ideas up its sleeve to decongest the roads around malls in the city. The new malls that have come up in Jayanagar 9th and 4th block could soon have subways on the crowded roads leading to them for the comfort of shoppers arriving on foot. On the cards are also skywalks with escalators to take the pressure off the roads around a few other malls.
“We are planning to build skywalks with escalators on eight important roads, including the Old Airport Road, near the Marathahalli junction and the Hosur Road, near Forum Mall, where pedestrian traffic is among the highest. We are

providing the escalators as people usually find skywalks too high to climb and ignore them,” says a senior BBMP officer.
Additional commissioner of police (traffic) Pravin Sood supports the idea of having more skywalks and subways in the city for pedestrian use. “We need them at nearly 200 locations. It is up to the civic

authorities to come up with more of them,” he says. A senior traffic officer explains it is essential to provide skywalks and subways around the many malls in the city for the sake of pedestrian safety and smooth traffic flow on the roads. “Subways and skywalks are a must in areas like Hosur Road, which has several attractions for shoppers like Star Bazar, Forum Mall and Big Bazaar,” he says.
The traffic police could have its wish fulfilled sooner than later as BBMP says it will build skywalks with escalators on KH Road, near the Corporation Bank bus stop, at Mission Road, and other localities to help traffic conditions.

City mall-functions, traffic hit

City mall-functions, traffic hit

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With a new mall coming up in Malleswaram and nine others in the pipeline, the need for effective traffic management has once again taken centre-stage.
Experts say not enough thought is given to the location of malls which has added to the congestion in busy areas, report Sanchita Sen and Akanksha Mehrotra Skywalks and subways are needed for pedestrians at nearly 100 to 200 places in the city. But civic authorities have to take a decision on the issue and implement it.

PRAVIN SOOD Additional commissioner of police for traffic Proper bus bays should be constructed in and around these areas as buses sometimes stop at odd places causing traffic snarls.

M.N. SRIHARI, Traffic advisor to the state government and member of ABIDe Nowadays I hate going to malls because of the traffic congestion. In most malls parking space is not available on weekends. One has to drive for around 2 km looking for parking space. The authorities should address these issues first.

SHARANYA SHEKAR software engineer

Glitzy malls with their glass facades have now become a barometer of a city’s progress.
Visitors to Bengaluru are often awed by the number of malls the city has and hardly ever miss going to them, enjoying the shopping experience they provide, their entertainment arcades and an evening at the movies should they want one. But the glam and glitz of the malls come at a price. The traffic on the roads around them is often chaotic as cars queue up to enter the malls in areas that are not equipped to handle such a rush of people all at once. Also, not all malls provide adequate parking space for shoppers, forcing many to park their cars or bikes on the roadsides and worsening traffic conditions on Bengaluru’s narrow roads.

“City planners have not given enough thought to the location of malls, which have been allowed to come up in crowded localities. They are adding to the traffic congestion in these areas as a result.

How can the BBMP allow malls spread over 10,000 sq feet to come up on an 80-ft wide road?” asks an angry resident of Rajajinagar.

Prof. M N Srihari, traffic advisor to the government and member of the Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure Development

(ABIDe), too feels that not enough thought is given to parking of vehicles and wide driveways when a mall is under construction, with the developers being more keen on using up as much space as possible for their commercial ends.
“Malls must be inspected while under construction to see if they are following the necessary guidelines on providing parking space. If they are not , they can be pulled up and instructed to do the needful. It is essential that officials of the BBMP and traffic department inspect the malls while they are under construction to check for the width of their driveways, parking space and pedestrian convenience,” he says.

But the importance of managing the traffic around them has not been lost on all malls. Some do realise that if there are traffic hold-ups on the roads in their vicinity as a result of bad planning, people could be discouraged from visiting them, leading to a dip in their business. “We try to ensure that there are no traffic hassles around the mall. At times the traffic police asks us to deploy our own staff to manage the pedestrian traffic heading for our shops and restaurants and we readily do so,” says Major Rajiv Kembhavi, corporate head, crisis handling, Forum Mall.

BBMP polls are over and power cuts are back

BBMP polls are over and power cuts are back

B.S. Satish Kumar
Loadshedding was lifted in run-up to polls
Bangalore faced loadshedding of an hour in most areas on Monday

State's daily power consumption hovering around 142 million units

BANGALORE: The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike elections are over. So too is the “round-the-clock” power supply bonanza that had been extended to Bangalore during the run-up to the elections. The load shedding in Bangalore, which had been lifted ever since the elections were announced for the civic body, was back on Monday, within 24 hours of the election.

Bangalore faced loadshedding of an hour in most areas on Monday, and in some areas even more. Before the announcement of BBMP elections, the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) had announced a load shedding of two hours a day in Bangalore to make up for the power shortage and increase in demand triggered by summer heat. However, the load shedding was reduced to an hour soon after there were clear indications of the elections to the civic body being held. Within a few days after the announcement of election date, even the one-hour load shedding was lifted silently without any official word.

This is not the first time that load shedding has been suspended after elections are announced.

Even during the campaign for byelections to eight Assembly constituencies in 2008, the power supply had seen temporary improvement in the eight taluks that went to polls.

Said Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry's Energy Committee chairman M.G. Prabhakar: “We can understand and appreciate the role of technical factors in power supply, but not that of political factors.” He hoped that the Karnataka State Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) would take note of this, adding that such alteration in power supply hours was in violation of the conditions on which the licence has been issued to Bescom by the power regulator for distribution of power.

“As per norms, the power utility should take permission from the KERC and inform the general public if it has to impose load shedding or change power supply hours. Before the elections, the power utility informed people through media advertisements that it would impose two-hour load shedding in Bangalore. But, subsequently, it did not announce why load shedding was lifted during the election campaign, and why it was re-imposed after the election,” he said. The KERC was already looking into a case filed a few months ago by the FKCCI against the utility for resorting to load shedding without the permission of regulator and informing the general public.

Meanwhile, the State is facing a serious power shortage and its daily power consumption is hovering around a high of 142 million units as the demand for power is shooting up with the prolonged dry spell and scorching summer heat.

New KSRTC terminal at Baiyappanahalli

New KSRTC terminal at Baiyappanahalli
Bangalore, March 29, DH News Service:

The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has begun inter-State operations at a new mini bus terminal at Baiyappanahalli on Old Madras Road.

It is located adjacent to the Bangalore Metro depot being constructed in the same area.
According to K A Rajkumar, Director (Operations), the State-run corporation has constructed a small facility near the old NGEFactory, on a trial basis.

“We have commenced bus services from 19 March on a one-way basis (towards Kolar and Tirupati). About 500 odd buses, including Volvo will ply daily through the new terminus from the City towards destinations such as Kolar, Chintamani, Malur, Chittor, Tirupati and Chennai. The new facility also has 12 bus bays” said Rajkumar. KSRTC will shortly finalise introduction of BMTC onnection to this new facility.

Highbrow City; Lowbrow voting

Highbrow City; Lowbrow voting
Bangalore, March 29, DH News Service:

Just 44.04 per cent citizens of the IT city turned up at the polling booths and cast their votes in the BBMP elections on Sunday - the lowest in the last one decade.

As per the statistics of votes polled released by the State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday, only 30,72,799 voters have exercised their franchise of the total 69,77,008 voters across the 198 wards. There is a declining trend in voter turn out in Bangalore in the last 10 years.

Statistics revealed that people in the newly-added areas of BBMP (erstwhile CMCs and TMC and villages) have not voted enthusiastically either. An average of 47 per cent polling has been recorded in Bangalore urban zone, which comprise the newly-added areas of Yelahanka, Byatarayanapura, Yeshwanthpura, Dasarahalli, Mahadevapura and Anekal.

Both the highest and the lowest polling per centages are recorded in Bangalore urban zone: Varthur (61.59 %) and Bellandur (29.26 %). There is also an irony to it: These are neighbouring wards in the Mahadevapura Assembly constituency.

Among 28 assembly constituencies, Yelahanka constituency has recorded the highest turnout of 52.88 per cent, while Sarvagnagar has the lowest voting per centage of 34.97.
By and large, voters in the erstwhile 100 wards of BMP kept off the electoral process to choose the new BBMP council. Wards comprising posh residential localities like Jayanagar, Vignanagar, Jeevan Bimanagar, Basavanagudi and Hanumanthanagar have registered less than 35 per cent polling.

Bangalore south zone, where a majority of IT and BT firms are located and their employees reside, recorded 42.54 per cent voting, the North zone, comprising areas like Malleshwaram, Sanjaynagar and C V Ramanagar, has registered 42.08 per cent and 44.90 per cent in the Central zone (core area comprising Shivajinagar, Shantinagar, Gandhinagar, Chikpet and Chamarajpet).
More women have participated in the democratic process than men. As many as 14,45,736 women have voted against total 32,98,567 women voters. Of 36,78,441 men voters, 16,27,063 have cast their ballots.

Is erroneous voters’ list a main reason for the low voter turn out?

“It may be a reason. I agree that there were complaints of missing names and deletion. Voters’ list was prepared by the Election Commission of India. We have tried to weed out errors as much as possible in the limited time,” State Election Commissioner C R Chikkamath told reporters.

He also said he will draw the attention of the Election Commission of India to the errors in the voters’ list in Bangalore. A report had been sought from the zonal officer of Bangalore south on complaints of large numbers of missing names in the list. These complaints were common in almost all wards of the BBMP.

As for other reasons for Bangaloreans remaining off the polling booths, he said as school examinations are on, parents were concentrating on their children’s studies.

“There are multiple reasons for it. One has to do a thorough study on this issue,” he stated.

Survey on voters’ apathy planned

The government is planning to appoint an agency to hold a survey to find out reasons for poor turnout during elections. “The voters’ turnout in City has not crossed 50 per cent in the past several elections. It’s a matter of concern. Perhaps, the survey will reveal the reason,”, CM Yeddyurappa told reporters on Monday.

BSY orders survey

BSY orders survey

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 30 Mar 2010 08:59:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 30 Mar 2010 09:18:15 AM IST
Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa has expressed concern over the low voter turnout in Sunday’s elections to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and has decided to order a survey to find out the reasons behind Bangaloreans not coming out in large numbers to vote .
The decision by Yeddyurappa comes in the backdrop of the outburst by political leaders, cutting across party lines, against “Bangaloreans indifference” to the polls .
The nature of the survey is not known and neither is it clear when it would be held, but the Chief Minister has said that it would be conducted by a private agency. “It is serious concern and we are worried about it (low voter turnout),” he said .
“I am surprised by the low turnout. Despite all the good work done by our government in the last two years, people have not come out to vote. This needs to be addressed,” the Chief Minister said .
“The survey would help us know the real reasons behind Bangaloreans not coming forward to vote,” he added .

Lakeside residents buy water as summer advances

Lakeside residents buy water as summer advances

Bosky Khanna. Bangalore

The plight of residents living near Ulsoor Lake has turned for the worse with the onset of summer.
Like elsewhere in city, here too, the residents get water supply only once in two days forcing them to depend on water tankers.
"Water comes once in two days. And whenever there is supply, it does not come in full force. The problem is acute especially for residents settled in elevated areas," says Meenakshi Sundaram, president of Bangalore Tamil Sangam and resident of Guttapalya in Ulsoor.
While some areas such as Ulsoor market and Ulsoor main road get water every day, places such as Murphy Town and Guttapalya get the supply only once in two days. But Ulsoor residents are lucky in one respect: the water they get is not contaminated. They face a problem of quantity, not quality, says Sundaram.
But dependence on water tankers is not a welcome option as residents have to pay through their nose.
"Since it's summer, water tanker operators charge more. Earlier, the rates were about Rs150 to Rs200. But now we are forced to cough up Rs350 for a tanker. The demand for water has gone up and we don't have any choice," says Jayanthi K, a long-time resident of Ulsoor.
According to Carlton Braganza, owner and proprietor of Opus, there is shortage of water in his area and many are forced to buy water from tanker operators. This is the case especially with people living in high rise apartment complexes. But for others living in independent residential establishments, the tussle gets tougher.
Residents say they have complained to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) about their plight. But civic officials don't seem to listen to their appeals.
Water shortage is not the only problem they face. The stench emanating from the drains located near the lake is unbearable. Nothing has been done by Palike to clean up the drains. Joggers and passers-by cover their nose while passing the area. It's a shame.
"Nobody seems to be caring about this. The civic agencies have done nothing to cover and clean up the drain and stop the inlet of sewerage into the lake. This place has become a breeding centre for mosquitoes. It is especially dangerous for children who get affected with health problems,'' says Nilima M, a worried mother.
Palike says the stench will go when the drainage work is completed. People need to be more patient, says one official requesting anonymity. Once the infrastructure is improved, the drainage problem will be solved.
According to a BWSSB official, water shortage is a problem that most parts of the city city faces every summer. But Palike is trying to do whatever it can to augment the supply. He says the problem will be solved with the commencement of the Cauvery fourth stage second phase project.

Wait a month for new corporator

Wait a month for new corporator

Procedures will take up 3 weeks and he or she will meet you in May first week

PK Surendran

After the civic election results are announced on April 5, it will be at least a month before a corporator could become effectively functional for people's needs. Put it differently, it will be the first week of May when he/she sets up office and be ready to greet you.
The procedural course goes like this: declaration of results and notification, convening of council meeting, election of mayor and deputy mayor and various committees, budget and budget allocation. All this will take up over three weeks.
A corporator's functions and his/her dos and don'ts are not clearly spelt out in the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act, civic experts say.
But a corporation has 18 civic functions and a corporator, as a member of the council, is logically expected to have as many functions. However, a councillor has no executive powers and can only represent and recommend mass issues and press for their solutions.
Civic analysts Kathyayini Chamaraj and V Ravichander and communications coordinator of Janaagraha Cheryl Rebello list some immediate responsibilities of an elected corporator. His/her overriding concern, they say, is for the improvement of the quality of life of his/her ward.
He or she can:
nTake up issues concerning basic amenities such as roads, drainage, water, and garbage clearance.• Set up a regular mass interactionmechanism
nDraw up a long-term and short-termmicro and macro development plan
nDiscuss with local representatives
and draft the budgetary needs
nBe a friend and guide to about
20,000 to 30,000 people of his or
her ward.
"A corporator is the most important representative of the people to present and press for the civic issues," says Cheryl.
As people in a city mostly face problems involving local self government, a corporator alone can come to the help of the locality he or she represents.
According to former corporator of Hoodi, Subha Raju, the most crucial areas a corporator spends his whole term involves "sa-pa-ma" which means sadak, pani aur makan. The rest are all peripherals. He says a corporator is as effective as he wants to be because the municipal act does not spell out the councillor's functions in clear terms.
The grey area
But – and this is a big but – there remains a grey area that threatens to undo the best intentions of the local self government.
According to the existing law, a corporator is to set up a ward committee within one month of his/her coming in. But four to five wards are clubbed together to form a ward committee which comprises 11 members. They are corporators 4, nominated (by govt) 5 and representatives of local NGOs 2.
One of the corporators will be elected chairman. But herein lies the catch, says Kathyayini Chamaraj.
If the four corporators happen to belong to different parties – and they generally are – there will develop an ego clash and each will try one-upmanship and the wardcommittees will finally be reduced to scarecrows. And, again, the governmentnomination goes to the workers of theparty in power.
"This defeats the very purpose of decentralised democratic set up," says she. Well-meaning civic organisations have been demanding to amend the act to make "one ward one committee" as suggested in the Bangalore Region Governance Bill. If this is not done, there will be no improvement in the civic works

Monday, March 29, 2010

Axe effect at park vexes walkers again

Axe effect at park vexes walkers again
Plans To Chop 30 Trees Within The Park For A Proposed War Memorial Has Struck Regular Walkers Hard

Bangalore: Sunday, 6 am. Regular walkers at the Indira Gandhi Musical Park on Raj Bhavan Road got together for yet another discussion about the proposed war memorial here. A majority of them came in from the three apartments around the park, and some from surrounding areas like Vasanthnagar and Ali Asgar Road.
Going by ABIDe and BDA’s joint action agenda, the memorial will be ready by December 2010, to commemorate Kargil Vijay Diwas. No doubt, Bangalore needs this war memorial. But, the one issue still worrying these walkers is: ‘Why here?’ The 30 trees to be cut within the park for the memorial has struck them hard.
“We are now used to trees being cut for road-widening. Should we also lose trees within public parks? Secondly, wouldn’t it be more relevant to have it on prominent defence land like the Manekshaw Parade Ground, considering it is also along Reach-1 of Namma Metro?’’ asks Abhay Jain, a resident of Vasanthnagar and regular walker in the park.
In the recent past, even ABIDe members like Mohandas Pai and other prominent citizens, like neurosurgeon Dr Sudheer Pai and Sudha Nambiar, Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s mother-in law, are said to have expressed their dissent to the proposed location.
Together, members of the Krishna Apartments Owners Welfare Association (bang opposite the park) had written to chief minister B S Yeddyurappa on March 11, 2010. However, with no reply yet, they have decided to meet governor H R Bhardwaj, their immediate neighbour, to find a way out of the issue.
It’s been more than six decades after Independence, but there’s no proper national war memorial anywhere in India. It’s not about ABIDe or a Rajeev Chandrasekhar, but the people of Bangalore together building a national war memorial to honour the war heroes. The idea is to preserve this for future generations to be inspired by the heroes. Having such a memorial on defence land is probably the most ridiculous and baseless argument. Even this park was once LRDA land. However, the only opposition could be the green cover. But we have addressed this issue and we assure, it will be a completely green design. The eucalyptus trees will be the only ones to be cut for it
Rajeev Chandrasekhar | CONVENER, ABIDE Seriously, the walkers opposing it, citing green concerns, can take a walk out. We want the war memorial here. Earlier, it was the soldier’s statue at Minsk Square that was shifted for the Namma Metro, and now it’s extended to this war memorial. It’s a city with no proper war memorial. In fact, we wanted it right in front of Vidhana Soudha but finally, we got this land. We have worked very hard on the entire plan, the conceptual details and even a model that was approved by the entire committee. We have waited for two years now. How long must we wait just for land?

Ground zero for Plaza theatre on M G Road

Ground zero for Plaza theatre on M G Road
Bangalore, March 28, DH News Service:

Much before the multiplexes arrived, Bangalore’s English film buffs had preserved a special place for the Plaza Theatre on MG Road.

But while the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL)’s acquisition of the theatre complex opened the doors for its demolition, many hadn’t reckoned the dust storm the process would raise.

The Metro Rail construction had already wreaked havoc on the City’s showpiece MG Road. The demolition triggered dust only added to the chaos on Sunday. The road users would have to endure it for another day, for BMRCL is all set to complete almost 90 per cent of the work by early Monday morning.

Sources in BMRCL said 50 per cent demolition of the 75-year-old building was completed by Sunday evening. “We have put up massive tarpaulin covers on all sides of the structure to prevent dust and rubble from spreading around. But despite this, dust cannot be avoided as the old structure is made up of mortar and bricks. The construction in those days was robust and strong. We are demolishing it using the latest machines. The public have no choice, but to endure some dust,” said a BMRCL engineer.

Construction of the Metro station concourse at the Plaza land is expected to begin this week. The concourse will help people from the Church Street side get on to the station and board the train. The landscape of the entire stretch of MG road is expected to change once the station and concourse comes up.

Have you heard of Sanjay Palace Road in city?

Have you heard of Sanjay Palace Road in city?

Express News ServiceFirst Published : 29 Mar 2010 04:31:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 29 Mar 2010 07:53:51 AM IST
BANGALORE: Ever been to Sanjay Palace Road in Bangalore? It is unlikely, for there is no such road in the city.
However, 300 fake voters, all residents of the road that does not exist, turned up at the Ganagpanagar (Ward No 20) polling station on Sunday, only to be caught by the poll officials. This was just one of the many cases of ‘creative exercise of franchise’ that the city saw during the BBMP polls.
In between minor fights and verbal altercations between parties, the BBMP polling process was carried out peacefully across the 198 wards, said city police commissioner Shankar Bidari on Sunday.
Though serious fights and mild lathi charges were witnessed in parts of the city, only five cases were registered. Two cases of bogus voting was reported at R T Nagar, where six individuals were arrested.
Around 10 am on Sunday, two accused, Venkatesh and T Murthy, were found seated in a car with Rs 85,525 in cash and 10 fake voter ID cards outside the polling booth near Adarsh School.
They were allegedly persuading people to vote for the Congress candidate Govindaraju.
Following a complaint lodged by one Madhusudhan, two cases were registered and six persons arrested.
Another case was registered at Wilson Garden police station against five — Sadashivaiah, Babu, Anil Reddy, Chandrashekar and Gajendra — for assaulting Hanumantharaju at 11.30 am, while he had gone to cast his vote. In the same division, one Rajshekaraiah alleged that he was beaten up by a gang of five.
The Congress candidate of Ejipura (ward no 148), has alleged that at about 11.45 am when he entered the booth to enquire about the response of voters, four JD(S) agents allegedly picked up a fight, accusing him of canvassing inside the booth. A case was registered with the Viveknagar police.
Peenya police have also registered a case against former cricketer Dodda Ganesh and his wife Neethu, JD(S) candidate from HMT ward, for allegedly blocking a road and disturbing traffic.
Shankar Bidari added that during elections, fights between parties are bound to happen.
“I was even told about a head constable who was canvassing for his relative. As a precautionary measure, we have brought him to the control room,” he added.

BJP’s star voters shun cars for bikes on election day to show their faces to media cameras. And they flout the law

BJP’s star voters shun cars for bikes on election day to show their faces to media cameras. And they flout the law

Medical Education Minister Ramachandra Gowda and actorturned-MLC Jaggesh rode bikes to go vote on Sunday, but they didn't care to wear helmets. Leaders who preach the moment they get an opportunity defied the rulebook which prohibits riding two-wheelers without wearing helmets. Both leaders blamed the media for having persuaded them to ride on their bikes to the polling booth to cast their votes for the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) elections.
The police, notorious for harassing citizens for trivial reasons, turned a blind eye towards netas flouting rules without a care.
Ramachandra Gowda came out of his house in Basaveshwaranagar with wife Yashoda to reach the polling booth at Agrahara Dasarahalli. Some reporters requested him to get on his bike as it would make an ideal photo-opportunity. Instead of convincing the media that it was against the rules, he pulled out his daughter’s Kinetic Honda and rode it with his wife riding pillion.
Instead of convincing the media that it was against the rules, he pulled out his daughter’s Kinetic Honda and rode it with his wife riding pillion.
Two of his staff ran behind the scooter-borne couple to the nearby polling booth. “I love riding the bike. Moreover, I cannot take the official car to the voting booth," Gowda told reporters after casting his vote.
As medical education minister he has persuaded youngsters to wear helmets on several occasions in the past.
When Bangalore Mirror confronted him, he said: “To be frank, it was the press people who wanted me to drive the bike. I came back home in a cab belonging to a TV channel. I drove without a helmet on the gully, not on the main road. It was just a matter of one minute."
Jaggesh, MLC and vice-chairman of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, rode his 1956-make Mag-Dynamo Bullet to the polling booth in Malleswaram and Rajajinagar.
The film star, who rides the same bike in some of his films, wore no helmet. He enjoyed the Bullet ride on the trafficthin roads as lensmen aimed at him. Incidentally, this is not the first time that he rode a bike without wearing a helmet. Some days ago he went campaigning on the bike without wearing a helmet.
He told BM: "I drove only in the inside lanes. The road has been dug up near my house and I cannot get the car out. So I took the bike." He said the traffic cops would have been concerned if he had gone on the main roads and disrupted traffic. "I was not doing it for publicity but to cast my vote early in the morning," he said in defence.
National award-winning actress Tara and her husband Venu (a cinematographer) joined the netas in breaking the helmet rule. While Tara rode pillion, Venu rode to the booth less than a hundred metres from home without a helmet.
When BM spoke to Tara, she said: “It is a new scooter. It is not even registered. We did not want to take a car as the school where we were to cast the vote is just a hundred metres from home. When we were ready to leave TV people came and asked us to ride the bike saying it would look good. I would have rather preferred to walk to the polling booth. We have yet to buy a helmet."
Police Commissioner Shankar Bidari expressed ignorance about the matter. When asked whether any fines have been imposed on the trio, he said he had not received any information.
The Karnataka Motor Vehicles Rules says: “Every person while driving or riding a motorcycle of any type, that is say motorcycles, scooters and mopeds shall wear protective headgear of such quality which will reduce head injuries to riders of two-wheeler resulting head impacts.”
Nimhans, which recently released the 'Bengaluru – Road Traffic Injury Surveillance Programme’ report, says: “The risk of death and severe brain injury increased by more than two times in the absence of helmet... Helmet rule should be implemented totally and not repealed or relaxed.”
Every week the cops penalise over 4,000 two-wheeler riders in Bangalore for riding without wearing helmets. The penalty for the offence is Rs 100. They have stepped up enforcement these days.
In 2008, Bangalore City Traffic police penalised 1.99 lakh riders for riding without helmets; in 2009 this figure went up to 2.30 lakh and in 2010 (by end of February) they have managed to stop, fine and chastise 42,236 bikers

‘Why cut trees for a memorial park?’

‘Why cut trees for a memorial park?’
With no clarifications coming forth from either ABide or Flags of Honour as regards the National Military Memorial Park to be built inside the Indira Gandhi Musical Park on Ali Asker Road, residents of the locality continue with their protest

Residents in the vicinity of the Indira Gandhi Musical Park on Ali Asker Road have a fundamental question about the proposed National Military Memorial Park to be built inside the only remaining lung space in the area: Why do you have to cut down trees to make a park? More than 30 people who gathered at the spot to continue their protest against the memorial wanted answers that nobody has come forward to give them so far.
“Given that they are planning a 150-foot tall veera gallu, an exhibition hall, replicas of tanks, war ships, fighter jets and even a lake in the six and a half acre plot that has been allotted to them, one can only estimate how many trees will be cut down,” says Abhay Jain, a regular walker at the park.
The residents also say that there is no information about the proposed design of the place. “I have gone to the BDA and checked out the plan. The proposed design certainly requires more space than what 31 eucalyptus trees can offer.
“Yet, Rajeev Chandrashekar, MP, says that no heritage tree will be touched,” said Bhanuprakash, another walker.
With conflicting information coming from various quarters about the project, the residents are a worried lot.
“They did not even involve the residents in the plan. Why mark it as a civic amenities site and then hand over a portion of it to a private trust?
“What about the public to which the park belongs?” asks Dr Sudhir Pai, secretary, Krishna Apartments Residents Association, which has already submitted a memorandum to the CM and the governor.
But what is niggling them the most is the logic behind the venue of the memorial.
“When trees are cut down in Bangalore for road widening, it is painful but inevitable. But, why cut down trees inside a park? When other countries are working towards increasing their green cover, Bangalore seems determined to turn barren. If you want to build a memorial here, don’t cut down a single tree and you have our complete support.
“Otherwise, we are going to continue with our protest,” said Prof Kamala Balekundri, a 78-year-old who has served as a commissioned officer in the National Cadet Corps (NCC).


Meteorologist predicts that maximum temperature in Bangalore may breach 39-degree mark this year

The effects of the unrelenting attack on Bangalore’s green cover is beginning to show. The temperature in the metropolis, once known as the ‘air conditioner city of India’, has been rising with every passing year, prompting meteorologists to predict that 2010 may see the mercury touch 39 degree Celsius, which would be a record in Bangalore's weather history.
The drizzles that the city received earlier this year, instead of cooling it, are believed to be one of the reasons for the temperature shooting up. Meteorologists say the 39 degree mark may be breached within the next two months.
"Since there has been no sign of rain, even humidity in the air is lower this year. This only adds to the heat, making it dry heat,” said Puttanna, in-charge director of the local meteorological department. “As early as February, the maximum temperature was hovering around 32 to 35 degree Celsius. It is normal for the temperature to rise further at this time of the year, reaching its peak in the first week of May.”
Bangalore's only hope is an early monsoon. Sadly, Puttanna offers no hope on this front. Officially, the monsoon begins on May 21. But, this year the city might have to put up with the heat for a bit longer. “We have not observed any low pressure systems forming in the Bay of Bengal or Indian Ocean, which in lay terms means that we cannot expect heavy rains till May-end,” he said.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

KSRTC opens swanky terminus

KSRTC opens swanky terminus


A new swanky KSRTC bus terminus opened last week at Byappanahalli equipped to handle close to 500 buses a day.
The terminus is part of the KSRTC’s plans to decongest the Majestic area to make way for the Metro Rail, which will run through it.

Buses heading to Andhra Pradesh have already begun operating from the terminus. “Once the Majestic bus stand closes, the Byappanahalli stand will be able to handle more traffic,” D.N. Yadupathi, bus stand in-charge said.

Currently, only people going to Tirupathi, Kolar, Madanapalli, Bagepalli and Vijaywada can board their buses here. All Andhra Pradesh bound buses halt at the bus stop to pick up passengers as do buses running

to Chennai via Chittoor.
“The terminus is doing well. We have a small canteen facility and a reservation counter as well,” Mr Yadupathi added. While it is presently spread over 10 acres it may be expanded in future to make space for more buses, according to him.

KSRTC officials said with more such bus stations planned on the outskirts, the city centre could see less traffic in future. “Once the Majestic bus stand stops operating to make way for the Metro we will need to operate buses from these new stations that are coming up around the city,” an officer explained.

While a four-lane road leads to the new bus stand, passengers say the traffic around it needs to be better regulated. They are also unhappy with the frequency of buses, and the long delays they have to put up with.

Thank city’s traffic jams

If you have not heard ‘Vote for...’ blaring from autos this year, thank city’s traffic jams
Civic poll campaign was quieter because candidates did not hire autos fitted with loud-speakers, as they become ineffective when caught in traffic jams

Though Bangaloreans have been cursing its infamous traffic jams, there’s one reason to thank them. They have ensured that politicians do not deploy autos mounted with blaring loud-speakers, which made life miserable, during election campaigns.
The three-wheelers, decorated with party colours and posters of candidates, were among the most visible and preferred campaign vehicles as they could navigate narrow gallis and reach every nook of the city. However, these vehicles were conspicuous by their absence throughout the campaigning for the BBMP elections. Various auto drivers’ associations claim that during the last BBMP elections, one of the major political parties had hired close to 2,000 autos.
“That is a conservative estimate,” says Syed Khan of the Bangalore Auto Rickshaw Dealers and Drivers’ Association.
This time, the number of autos hired by all the candidates put together is less than 2,000.
Though official line of political parties is the limit on the number of vehicles, candidates let us in on the real reason.
One of them said, “Each auto costs about Rs 2,500 per day. It works out if the auto covers at least 60 to 70 km a day. But, the traffic jams ensure that they can’t do more than 40 km. Why waste money when there are no returns? Instead, if i get a lady to wear a saree in my party colours, more people will see it.” This two-time corporator has deployed three autos in his constituency at Vijayanagar while he had hired 20 during the last civic election.
A first-time candidate said, “When stuck in a traffic jam, there is no use repeating the same message to the same people? It is a dead investment.”
The change in strategy has hit the auto drivers hard. “During elections, we used to make anywhere between Rs 500 and Rs 900 every day. We had a fixed income during the campaign. But this time, nobody has approached us,” says Ramesh S N who has campaigned for all political parties. FACTORS AGAINST THREE-WHEELERS
A first-time candidate said, “When stuck in a traffic jam, there is no use repeating the same message to the same people? It is a dead investment.”
A two-time corporator had hired 20 autorickshaws during the last BBMP election. This time, he deployed just three in his constituency at Vijayanagar.

More reasons for B’lore to give big smile

More reasons for B’lore to give big smile

Bangalore: It’s raining goodies for Bangalore, thanks to the BBMP election. Now, 24-hour power supply and a circular rail covering outer parts of the city are in the offing.
The circular rail, planned to decongest traffic, will become reality with the government reserving Rs 500 crore for it. The urgency to start the project is such that chief minister B S Yeddyurappa confirmed that the government won’t wait for funding share from the Centre. “The circular rail will be developed on the lines of Mumbai’s local trains. The lines will connect the city centre with areas on the outskirts. Existing tracks connecting Bidadi, K R Puram, Yeshwantpur, among others, will be doubled to create Bangalore local train lines. Also, there’ll be monorail for four zones in the city,” Yeddyurappa said on Friday.
He was confident that his party could win 120 seats in the BBMP election. “At least Rs 25,000 crore will be set aside to develop the city by selling government land recovered from encroachers,” he added.
The first phase of Bangalore Metro will start on December 2010. “There should be no doubt about this project being completed on time. Besides, 40 parking lots will be built in parts of the city at Rs 1,000 crore,” he said.
As announced by state BJP chief K S Eshwarappa and endorsed by Yeddyurappa, the government will float tenders in April for a gas-based power plant in Bidadi to give 24-hour power supply. “This project has been on paper for a long time. The government will implement it now,” Yeddyurappa said. Eshwarappa said intercity local trains for Tumkur, Mysore, Doddaballapur and Bangalore will be started.
“The government is ready to frame a standalone law for Bangalore. While New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai have Acts to govern the city, Bangalore doesn’t have any. The proposed Bangalore Regional Governance Act is being reviewed by the law and urban development departments. There will be scope for creation of ward committees involving residents,” Eshwarappa pointed out.
Cong sees red
Amifffed Congress has petitioned the State Election Commission (SEC) against the BJP, saying the ruling party has violated the code of conduct by holding a press conference on Friday.
KPCC president R V Deshpande, in a memorandum to SEC commissioner C R Chikmath, said he’d received oral communication from SEC secretary D K Ravindranath that holding press conferences would attract code violation. Hence, he was forced to cancel his proposed press meet on Friday.
Deshpande alleged that BJP volunteers in Pulikeshinagar were buying voter’s ID cards and ration cards from the minorities to prevent them from voting on Sunday. Ravindranath said the Congress complaint has been referred to the BBMP’s media committee. “The committee will go through the contents of the assurances made; it will submit its report in the next 24 hours to the SEC.’’

Parties failed to remember the rights of pedestrians

Parties failed to remember the rights of pedestrians

They should have given bold views on footpaths and public transport system

Two significant elements of transport that are neglected are public transport and pedestrians. One wonders why parties are not talking about them. They are people's burning issues.
Do any of the leading parties have a bold and ambitious vision on footpaths? Their manifestoes do not reflect it. BJP has just mentioned about the bus stops. So there is some kind of thinking on public transport from one party.
Metro is going to be a good step forward. But what about the bus network, the bus system, the bus stops. People have faced so many issues with the way bus stops are designed and the information centre is functioning.
Mobility of the people involves three elements, private, public transport and pedestrians. The stress continues on private transport. If this is not corrected, the remaining things will fizzle out.
Has there been a clear footpath mapping being done at any of the city's major crossings? Or has there been a pedestrians' movement mapping? In the city's big junctions, there are still no zebra crossings or proper walk ways. Pedestrians should be able to walk from one side of the junction to the other without an effort.
This is a serious safety issue as most traffic accidents at junctions involve pedestrians. Parties should have discussed and included it in their manifestoes.
Each street in Bangalore must have safe, clear and continuous footpaths. At present, the footpaths are not safe, especially for old people. For instance, what will they do if an elevated footpath stops abruptly? They can't jump to the road which is risky. Pedestrians being forced to walk on roads is another safety concern.
Four-laning and flyovers are only temporary steps. Until people shift from private to public transport, incentives must stay. But to make that shift possible, public transport must be made attractive. Mono rail is a good idea. It is part of the larger transportation plan for Bangalore for the next 20 years. No party spoke about that.
To make things work, there should be congestion tax. Singapore has tried it successfully. Public will initially resist it. But that is the incentive created for them in using public transport and disincentive for private vehicle users. But this cannot work unless people have a good public transport option.
One clear incentive is to create a seamless network of public transport. Each bus and Metro station should be inter-connected. So when people leave their homes for work, they should have have an integrated transport system.
But the integrated transport plan should be inclusive of people's views like the one on widening the roads.

No clarity on residents' involvement

No clarity on residents' involvement

Manifestoes fail to spell out the commitment to give them an active role in decision making

Thanks to the active role being played by various residents' welfare associations in taking up civic issues with the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, there is need for a structural change in urban governance.
All the political parties had promised an active role for local residents in planning for the development of their respective areas. But the manifestoes have not reflected that commitment in full force.
All that the BJP manifesto says is bringing the Bangalore Regional Governance Act for giving a new dimension to the BBMP's role. The party has plans to provide day-to-day civic administrative services like issuance of birth and death certificates, various licences and their renewal online. JD(S) lays more importance for eradicating corruption in the BBMP, but without explaining the measures.
Bringing offices of all the civic agencies such as BWSSB and BESCOM in one office building in all the assembly constituencies in Bangalore will go a long way in reducing the hassles for the citizens to get their grievances redressed. This plan finds mention in JD(S) manifesto for better governance.
But Congress scores over its rivals as it commits to implement the 74th amendment of the Constitution in letter and spirit. "Every Congress corporator will involve residents' welfare associations and civic groups in ward-level committees and in decision making. Public consultation will be mandatory before commencement of new projects."
Area sabhas will partner with the BBMP in enabling 100% property tax collection, highlighting the vacant and encroached government property. As far as fighting corruption is concerned, Congress promises public access to information about all projects and people's participation to oversee development works. The party's detailing on the issue also includes ward-level monthly meetings with officials to ascertain citizens' views and resolve their problems.
The plan to set up a single helpline anchored to the BBMP to enable residents to solve their problems easily is attractive. But the efficiency of the helplines set up for tackling monsoon fury do not evoke much optimism about the effective implementation of such citizen-friendly programmes.

More slogans and very little action

More slogans and very little action

With A day to go for Bangalore to vote, DNA and Janaagraha take a critical look at the 'populist' manifestoes of the three leading political parties

Doubts remain on their success

Manifestoes focus on the burning issues of voters but remain silent on how the goals will be achieved

Poll campaigning has undergone big changes but not the manifestoes being released by the political parties. Though the political parties had all the time in the last one year to prepare their development map for the city, the fact that the manifestoes were released just a week before the polling date is a sad reflection of them. A cursory look at the manifestoes is enough to conclude that they are a compendium of slogans than a vision document for city's overall development.
All the manifestoes have big ticket plans to improve the city's infrastructure. More flyovers, underpasses, mono rail, signal-free corridors, 24x7 water supply and much more, but without going further on the way to fulfill these promises.
Except for BJP's talk on rejuvenating Arkavathy and Vrishabhavathy rivers to quench the city's thirst in the long term and Congress throwing some light on its plans to involve Area Sabhas and Ward Committees to bring structural changes in city governance, the manifestoes are reflecting only macro view without any micro connect at the citizen level.
The disconnect with the citizen was loudly exposed at the 'Know Your Candidate' campaign conducted by Janaagraha. Over 90% of audience in these programmes were not bothered about how the parties will transform the city. They only wanted to know how the parties would ensure regular water supply, provide uninterrupted power supply and garbage disposal.
For instance, assurance of widening 93 arterial roads into four-lane roads is almost impossible considering the challenge of demolishing the existing structures, compensation to be paid and other issues involved. Similarly, JD(S) promise of levying one-time parking tax on new vehicles is touching just one side of the problem, as it is silent on increasing parking space in the city.
The parties have taken no care to distribute the manifestoes to general public, neither have the candidates taken interest to dovetail it to local needs. The big projects promised by all the political parties – be it the power plant at Bidadi or bringing Hemavathi water to Bangalore – these are state issues to be addressed by the government. Why do they need to put it in BBMP election manifesto?
People normally don't have the tendency to differentiate between the two and that is where one has to take a critical look at these manifestoes and see how realistic they are. Parties must make promises that are achievable.

The new Mantri Square is causing traffic snarls

It's a squeeze on Sampige Road

Staff Reporter
The new Mantri Square is causing traffic snarls

Crush:A traffic jam on Sampige Road in front of Mantri Square in Bangalore.
BANGALORE: The Bangalore Traffic Police has said Mantri Developers, promoters of Mantri Square on Sampige Road in Malleswaram, has not yet thrown open the service road for entry and exit of vehicles into the mall. This, the police said, has put enormous burden on the already congested Sampige Road and thrown traffic out of gear.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security) Praveen Sood said that after the opening of Mantri Square, traffic on Sampige Road had increased by 300 per cent.

The road is too narrow to accommodate the load, he said, and added the developer should have thrown open the service road.

According to the traffic plan submitted by the developer, the service road should have been the entry and exit point to the mall.

Parking capacity

Mr. Sood said the present traffic diversion was a temporary measure until the traffic situation stabilises and the service road is thrown open. Vehicles spill over on the road when Mantri Square's parking capacity of 1,800 cars becomes full. This is compounded by vehicles waiting to gain entry into the mall on the main road itself, he added. Vehicles coming out of the mall only add to the chaos.

300 acres to be allotted for Greater Peenya Industrial Estate

300 acres to be allotted for Greater Peenya Industrial Estate

Staff Reporter
Minister inaugurates first aid and primary health centre

‘Only dry land being acquired for industrial development'

Bangalore: Industries Minister Murugesh R Nirani on Friday said the State Government would soon allot 300 acres of land for the formation of Greater Peenya Industrial Estate.

Speaking after inaugurating a First Aid and Primary Health Centre set up by Peenya Industries' Association (PIA) at NTTF Cross in Peenya Industrial Estate, the Minister said the Government had acquired land in Nelamangala taluk. The land would be allotted in the next The Minister denied allegations made by the former Energy and PWD Minister H.D. Revanna that the Government was acquiring agricultural land and exploiting farmers for the benefit of IT/BT companies. He said the Government was only acquiring dry land for industrial development and not agricultural land.

PIA President Ramakrishna Mudgal said the first aid and primary health centre was set up a cost of Rs. 9 lakh for the benefit of industry employees as well as general public.

“Nearly 75 per cent of industries in Peenya do not have ESI facilities for their employees as the number of people working there are less than 10. “For every small injury or health problems, these employees had to go to private hospitals. So we have set up this centre and the facilities will be made available at a nominal cost,” he said. The centre will have two full-time doctors, paramedics and out-patient facilities.

Bangalore Metro hid pact with Mantri on station

Bangalore Metro inked pact with Mantri on station

Anil Kumar Sastry
The Swastik station will be inside the mall
Mantri Developers has built a swanky mall on Sampige Road

Bangalore Metro acquired five acres of Mantri land for Swastik station in 2005

BANGALORE: The mystery with regard to the Swastik station has been unravelled with Bangalore Metro now admitting that it had entered into a joint development agreement with Mantri Developers to house the station in the latter's swanky mall on Sampige Road.

Bangalore Metro's admission came after Mantri's Chairman and Managing Director Sushil Mantri made a public disclosure of it on the eve of the inauguration of the mall, named Mantri Square, which is also reckoned to be the biggest in the country.

All these years Bangalore Metro authorities were silent about the Swastik station even though they had been announcing regular updates on all other stations in Phase 1 of Namma Metro. Bangalore Metro had also refused to divulge information in this regard under the Right to Information Act to former Mayor P.R. Ramesh, citing “security” reasons.

However, while announcing the launch of Mantri Square, Mr. Mantri said a Metro station would come up inside the mall in two years. It will be for the first time that a Metro station will come up inside a mall, Mr. Mantri said.

Mantri Developers had bought the 24-acre property belonging to Mysore Mills of the National Textile Corporation in an open auction. Bangalore Metro, however, acquired five acres of this land for the Swastik station in 2005.

A Bangalore Metro spokesperson, while accepting signing of a joint development agreement with the Mantris, said he had to contact the management to divulge details on revenue sharing. “We acquired five acres of the property and the developer has to construct the station. It is not true that commercial spaces will be built atop the station as being discussed in the public domain,” the spokesperson said.

Bangalore Metro will continue to be the owner of the land while the developer will spend nearly Rs. 35 crore to construct the station which will be operational by 2013.

Swastik Station is a part of the North-South corridor (Hessarghatta Cross and Jaraganahalli) of Namma Metro. After Swastik, the alignment goes underground to reach Majestic station and moves underground via Chickpet and City Market stations before coming up on K.R. Road in Visveswarapuram.

The Bangalore Metro spokesperson further said the space around the station would be leased out to the developer for 99 years. The developer will share the revenue generated from commercial exploitation of the property with Bangalore Metro, ranging from one per cent to five per cent, he added.

State of Silicon Valley: Lakhs of problems

State of Silicon Valley: Lakhs of problems

Rajashekar SFirst Published : 26 Mar 2010 04:46:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 26 Mar 2010 08:56:07 AM IST
BANGALORE: Take this: Bangalore is the highest revenue generator, be it commercial tax, property tax, stamp duty or any other cess collected by the state. Nearly, two-thirds of Karnataka’s income is generated in Bangalore. The city, called India’s silicon valley, has its name etched in the global IT map with the presence of top notch companies here. It has also produced business leaders, academicians, researchers and sportspersons respected world over.
In the political sphere, however, Bangalore doesn’t have a leader, who is truly its own, though it has given some key influential leaders at the state level. Those who claim to represent the city have their limitations and are largely confined to the constituencies they represent — either in the Assembly or Lok Sabha.
The only leader in recent times who had some kind of an influence or charisma over Bangloreans was External Affairs Minister S M Krishna. Though an outsider, Krishna had been a resident of the city for decades, and as CM, he gave a big boost to infrastructure and the growth of IT and ITES sectors. He proactively helped build Brand Bangalore so much so that his detractors dubbed him a Bangalorecentric CM.
Much before Krishna, in the early 1980s, the then CM late Ramakrishna Hegde wielded some influence over Bangalore, then a small city better known as pensioners’ paradise. Two decades later, the city has metamorphosed into a behemoth that stretches across 709.53 This sudden and unbridled growth of the city has posed several problems in terms of inadequate infrastructure like bad roads, sewerage system, adequate supply of drinking water, traffic snarls, lack of planned mass transportation system, mushrooming of slums and shortage of power supply to mention a few.
Now, with the battle for BBMP on, political parties are leaving no stone unturned to woo the electorate with promises to make Bangalore beautiful. But what they have not promised is a leader for Bangalore and its sustained growth. The JD(S) is struggling to shed its anti-urban image, while the Congress is still clinging to Krishna’s “urbane and suave” image to influence voters.
The BJP, though, claims a few city leaders, however, their presence is limited to the areas they represent. Will the BBMP polls usher in a new leadership? Let’s hope.

Citizens see red as CM, BJP prez paint the city

Citizens see red as CM, BJP prez paint the city

Sharan PoovannaFirst Published : 26 Mar 2010 04:54:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 26 Mar 2010 08:48:48 AM IST
BANGALORE: While Bangalore’s netas are outdoing each other promising heaven and earth and everything in between, once they are elected, their election time antics are making life hell for many of Bangalore’s citizens.
While the chief minister, Cabinet ministers, Opposition leaders, MLAs, MPs and candidates to the BBMP council set the campaign trail ablaze accompanied by innumerable followers and motorcades, the traffic snarls born in their wake has become a major headache for Bangaloreans.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Yeddyurappa and State BJP president K S Eshwarappa put the show on the road and visited several wards in the city — taking out processions and halting traffic along the way. The CM’s convoy sealed one side of Mysore road by parking in the centre of the road. Party supporters cheered their leaders’ speeches (all of which promised great things for Bangalore’s populace) as students and office goers bore the brunt of their shenanigans.
To cover maximum ground on the last day of campaigning, the CM’s convoy visited as many wards as possible and during the day’s whirlwind campaigning ended up stopping the entire traffic on Mysore road once again — this time so that the CM could offer prayers in a temple on the main road.
Later Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa split ways to visit the wards on their itineraries. The procession that started in Kuvempu Nagar moved through Magadi Road, Kottige Palya, Leggere, Nandini Layout, Rajajinagar and Mahalaxmi Layout, reaching Malleshwaram’s Deviah Park; putting paid to all hopes the area’s residents might have had of a decent day.

Friday, March 26, 2010

CM’s brigade blocks Mysore Rd

CM’s brigade blocks Mysore Rd
Bangalore, Mar 25, DHNS

Motorists can now breathe easy. Public campaign for the BBMP elections has officially ended on Thursday evening.

With politicians, of all hues, hitting the road for campaigning on the last day, motorists had a nightmarish experience having struck in traffic jams. The worst affected were riders on the busy Bangalore-Mysore Road, where Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and his entourage had blocked the traffic for nearly half an hour --between Deepanjalinagar junction and Satellite bus stand - in the morning from 10.30 am to 11 am.

Yeddyurappa offered prayers at the Gali Anjaneyaswamy temple to kickstart the day’s campaign. BJP State President K S Eshwarappa and former minister V Sommanna accompanied the chief minister. Hundreds of the BJP workers had gathered at the temple to welcome their leaders.

It is actually this stretch of Bangalore-Mysore Road which is very narrow and it remains congested even on a normal day. Traffic block caused by the chief minister only added to woes of motorists. Over and above, supporters of these leaders created utter chaos by playing drums and bursting crackers. Yeddyurappa was scheduled to arrive at Gali Anjaneyaswamy temple at 9 am, but he was one-and-a-half hour late. The presence of a large number of party workers, who were waiting for Yeddyurappa to arrive, blocked the traffic on all by-lanes around the temple.

“This is harassment of a worst kind. The leaders block roads to tell motorists that they want to de-congest the city roads. We know they (politicians) do nothing, and we have stopped worrying about it. It will be of great help if they stop bothering us like this,” Nishanth, a motorist struck on the Bangalore-Mysore Road, said.

Ditto was the scene near Prasanna theatre in Govindrajnagar and near Nandini theatre in Mahalakshmipuram where the chief minister campaigned.

This was true with leaders of all political parties. JD(S) State President H D Kumaraswamy caused a traffic jam on Kanakapura Road, Congress leaders B K Hariparasad and former union minister M V Rajashekaran affected smooth flow of traffic on Srinagar and Shivanagar main roads.

Mono rail for Bangalore

The Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on Thursday said a mono rail project will be taken up soon to end the problem of traffic jams in Bangalore. “The Government is making preparations to take up a mono rail project. We want people to keep their two-wheelers and four-wheelers aside and take metro and mono rails to safely reach their offices,” he stated at a public rally near Gali Anjaneyaswamy temple on Bangalore-Mysore Road.

Kids on a clean, green mission

Kids on a clean, green mission
Residents near Vasanthnagar Police Quarters are pleasantly surprised – the garbage is gone and there are saplings instead. And guess who’s behind it? The neighbourhood children

Abunch of 15 kids from Vasanthnagar Police Quarters are saying goodbye to garbage and hello to greenery by planting saplings in their area.
Sindhuri B Y (10) and Aadya T (8) are neighbours on Vasanthnagar’s 15th Main Road which has a mix of apartments and independent houses. Every morning, they would be greeted with the same sight. “From the time we’ve been here, all we’ve seen is garbage that people would dump,” says Sindhuri.
“I’ve heard that this has been the case for the past 15 years,” said Satyakrishna (11).
In March, the girls swung into action. They got other neighbourhood kids together and decided to get rid of the garbage and use the space for something better. They decided to plant saplings.
It wasn’t easy. They needed money to clear the place and to buy saplings. While the easiest way would have been to ask their parents, they decided not to. “We went from house to house to collect the money. All of them contributed and no one said they would not,” said Aadya. They also contributed from their own pocket money.
It took the kids 12 days to collect money from the 80-odd residents in the street. “We would come back from school and begin our collection drive. We never found it boring or tiring,” said Madhuri D (17). Together, they managed to collect Rs 2,780.
Next, they got the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) staff to remove the garbage. “My father helped with a cost list, telling us how much to spend on what,” said Amritavarshini (12).
The parents also pitched in by getting them a gardener and saplings from the horticulture department. “We got neem and Honge (Pongemia) saplings which will provide us shade later. We will also get some flowering plants soon,” said Amritavarshini.
As of now, they’ve planted eight saplings and have put up a board requesting neighbours not to dump any garbage there. Soon, they want to replicate the idea across Vasanthnagar.
“They are also dumping garbage near a temple on the next street. We want to plant saplings there too. Since that is a smaller place, we will pitch in with our own money,” said Sindhura. “We want to beautify the whole of Vasanthnagar,” Amritavarshini added with a smile.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Greening will be a 'bruhat' task for corporators

Greening will be a 'bruhat' task for corporators

The damage has been done. But all hope is not lost as concerted efforts can still turn several areas into verdant Anandnagars

Bosky Khanna. Bangalore

This constituency, which not long ago was considered green with many water bodies and lung spaces, has given way to brick and cement. It all began with frenzied constructions in Bangalore North after the international airport came up. By now, this wanton act has claimed much of Hebbal's greenery.
Esthar Raj, a resident of SSA Road, is visibly hurt as she talks about how bald the highway to the airport looks after the Hebbal flyover. The interior roads too have little greenery left as open spaces have given way to residential buildings. The parks and playgrounds scattered over the constituency are facing the same predicament. The place has been ripped off its rich tree cover, she says.
"But what's more shocking is that no one is bothered about it," says Esthar. A decade ago, there was a lake behind Baptist Hospital, she racalls. Now it has been gobbled up by high-rises. She will not rate the constituency more than one, on a scale of one to ten where one is the lowest and ten is the highest.
Guru Prasad, a resident of Vishwanath Nagenahalli, estimates that the constituency as a whole has lost about 60% of greenery to buildings. Hebbal Lake, although much emaciated today, is the lone cool spot and Lumbini Garden, the only green patch, left for residents.
Prasad rates the constituency four. Development has claimed some greenery but the governmental initiative can restore it to a large extent. The residents of this northern suburb long for parks and open spaces which they view as pre-requisites for a quality life. Hence, attention must be focused on setting up more playgrounds, he says.
Blaming the government and citizens for the loss of green cover, environmentalist Suresh Heblikar recalls how the whole place was an agrarian belt not long ago. Real estate boom lured inhabitants into selling their lands for a dream-sum and move away into interiors with wads of cash.
"The present condition of Hebbal constituency clearly shows that satellite maps were not used for planning. This was a low-lying area with a large number of seasonal water bodies. They have been replaced by high rise commercial and residential buildings," he says.
According to him, official apathy to environment is the underlying cause of the area growing bald. Heblikar gives it a rating of four. Concerted efforts by citizens, corporate managements and the corporation should be initiated to grow greenery in this prestigious place which is emerging as the corridor to the fastest-growing suburbs of Bangalore North.
Anandnagar in Hebbal ward is a shining example of well-laid out, green-covered residential locality. Anandnagar Welfare Association's secretary Krishnan Kutty proudly says that his area remains the only green stretch in the whole neighbourhood.
Since most parts of the area have private layouts, there are very few parks and playgrounds. The parks that have survived the attack of land sharks are not maintained well.

Waiting for magic that is out of box

Waiting for magic that is out of box

The parks here are showing the way in water management. Women, on their part, are managing waste with the help of an NGO. But with a long summer ahead, they are also worried about an impending water crisis, writes Vaishalli Chandra

Citizens' initiative is good but corporators could make a difference in Hebbal

Vaishalli Chandra

While many residents crib at lack of hygiene and garbage clearance, homemakers in MHS Layout of Anandnagar lent their whole-hearted support to the NGO Full Circle that works in waste management. Waste is collected and ragpickers are employed to sift waste. Small though the initiative is, it keeps the 120-home layout spick and span.
"We started a garbage management programme last year," says Anjana Iyer of Full Circle. Many parks in the locality have potential to help generate manure. The agency plans to do more in this direction. "We want the elected representatives to involve us in the workings of our wards," says Anjana.
Elsewhere, Hebbal faces civic challenges such as water shortage, piled garbage, poor sanitation, unmarked speed breakers and unsafe roads.
All the eight wards say in unison that the most pressing problem is water paucity, especially since the summer has set in. While the water table is receding on account of unbridled construction and destruction of greenery, bore wells are not helping much in many wards. Here too, people are heavily dependent on water tankers especially in Ganganagar, Hebbal areas.
"We used to get water every alternate day in SBM Colony. Now it comes in three or four days," says 28-year-old Janaki K of the colony.
Garbage dumps and erratic collection of waste prove another worry of the wards. "The army of stray dogs makes it difficult for morning walkers," complains homemaker Lakshamma. "Garbage is even dumped in front of the Ganesha temple, opposite the HOPCOMS and Punjab National Bank," says Dr Radhika Rao, a resident. If a temple precinct is not sacrosanct for litterbugs, what to think of other places, she says.
Ganganagar and Sanjaynagar face what residents term as 'hawker menace'. The unwelcome presence of many autorickshaws eats away space along the roads. Residents would have tolerated them had the drivers been behaving properly.
"When one tries to engage them, the greedy drivers want the passenger to go where they want to go," says Devika Jain, a woman resident of Sanjaynagar, angrily.
The residents of Ganganagar are upset with the magic box that has made pedestrian life miserable. "We cannot cross over to the other side," says Gitanjali, a school teacher and resident of Aswathnagar.
Residents want corporators to use their good offices to prevail upon the BMTC to reorganise their schedules and set up minimum facilities like proper bus shelters for people if they want their buses to be a popular transport. The bus bay near Baptist Hospital was shifted some time ago and people are now forced to stand under a blazing sun, says Hemalatha Jacob, a nursing student.
"It's no use observing a 'bus day' once a year or month. It has to be made a habit for which the BMTC must help us," she adds.
Lack of parks and playgrounds for children makes C Sharada, a teacher residing in Nagenahalli, fume with rage.
"There are so many parks in some areas but Nagenahalli has none. Where will our children play and elders go for a walk? We need some green space to spend quality time quietly," she says.
But many in Hebbal constituency, touted to be next tech hub of Bangalore, want to dispel the gloom and point out that Hebbal will emerge well on all fronts. It will be the first constituency in which all the 10 major public parks have implemented rainwater harvesting system.
"Hebbal will be the first area whose parks are no longer dependent on bore wells or the water supplied by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board," says Rajan Mathew, a research scholar with Bangalore University.
BBMP (horticulture) east zone superintendent N Shivanna says how Hebbal can become a role model for others to follow in rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharging. Projects are in the offing and minister Katta Subrahmanyam has taken a special interest in water harvesting.
Anjana says Hebbal's would-be corporators can give a big push to the constituency's development. "The ward committee system is a good idea and it can work well."
The elected representatives can make ward committees vibrant and help in evolving several popular initiatives to improve civic amenities with or without the help of the BBMP, she says

Park, don't pay; no worrying on MG Road

Park, don't pay; no worrying on MG Road

Closure of a thoroughfare stretch comes as a boon to motorists

Bosky Khanna and Senthalir S. Bangalore

For once, parking is not a nightmare on Mahatma Gandhi Road as nearly half of the thoroughfare stretch has been turned into an impromptu parking lot, thanks to the ongoing Namma Metro work.
The MG Road stretch from Trinity Circle to Brunton Road, which has been closed completely for Metro work, has now become a vast parking lot.
People have been parking their vehicles in the barricaded stretch of the road, below the Metro bridges under construction and between the pillars, for six days now.
But the flip side is that the Metro work has taken away the luxury of a few who could drive up to their offices and park their vehicles in official parking lots.
"Parking space on MG Road was the most difficult thing to get. But we are now forced to park our vehicles bang on the middle of the road. This is because the entry to our building is blocked,'' said Prakash Puttaparthi, an employee of HSBC bank.
A few companies have even assigned their security guards to manage the vehicles of their employees on the road. Kamal Sharma, a security guard of a private company who was manning a part of the road, said that his task was to take care of the vehicles of his company employees. He said he would make space for parking only to those who showed company identity cards.
Shoppers too are seen parking their vehicles free of cost. "We have to ensure that vehicles are not parked outside the barricaded areas as they will be towed away. It is also very difficult to find parking space on MG Road, but this provision has helped,'' said Narendra Kumar, a citizen.
Ulsoor traffic police inspector Kavitha MC said that though the provision to park on the road was made only for people coming to the companies in the area, anybody could park their vehicles. "We have not allowed parking, Metro has. Since there has been a lot of inconvenience to commercial establishments in the area because of Metro work, this arrangement was made," she added
"The parking space on the stretch between Brunton Road and Trinity Circle will be available only for two months. Parking of vehicles between pillars too is temporary as they are doing so because of blacktopping work going on in the area. All support is being provided to Metro to ensure that work is completed at the earliest,'' additional commissioner of police (traffic) Praveen Sood said.

Not enough room for security at BIA

Not enough room for security at BIA

Heavily armed personnel have been posted at the airport; but they have been deprived of toilets, water

Santosh Kumar RB. Bangalore

A plan to provide tighter security to the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) could not reach fruition. Reason: Lack of space. The BIA failed to provide accommodation within its premises to the police contingent that would be led by an assistant commissioner of police (ACP).
Ever since the new Bengaluru International Airport launched operations in May 2008, there have been security concerns. Airports across the country have, in recent times, been placed on high alert after security agencies issued advisories warning of heightened terror threats. Most recently, a crude bomb was discovered intact in a flight that had taken off from Bangalore after it landed at Trivandrum airport.
Plans were mooted in 2008 to upgrade security at the Bangalore airport by having a separate police sub-division cater exclusively to it. The model for the airport security plan was the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport in New Delhi, where a deputy commissioner of police is posted to look after security.
Impressed by the arrangements at the airport in the national capital, Bangalore police decided to form one more sub-division under the DCP, North East. At present, the North East DCP comprises the sub-divisions of Yelahanka, Sampigehalli, Devanahalli.
The new sub-division created under the North East DCP, it was planned, would cater to the needs of the BIA. "Like the security for the Vidhana Soudha, it was planned that a separate division would look after security at BIA," said a senior police officer.
As plans to introduce the new sub-division fell through, city police have been considering clubbing the roles of regulating traffic in the area and providing security. The ACP posted to regulate traffic in the area would double as the one in charge of airport security.
Deputy commissioner of police (North-East) Basavaraja Malagatti, said that Devanahalli sub-division was first headed by ACP BB Ashok Kumar. Ever since he was transferred to Frazer Town a year-and-a-half ago, no one was posted to replace him. That was when the police thought of withdrawing the move to introduce a special sub-division for the airport. Malagatti said, "The BIAL has 400 flights, half as many as the IGI. That was why it was decided that the ACP heading the Devanahalli sub-division could also take care of airport

Racecourse to morph into a garden

Racecourse to morph into a garden

Special Correspondent
— Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

Lung space:The Chief Minister declares that no towers will come up on the Bangalore Turf Club premises.
Bangalore: The State Government has decided to develop a 90-acre plot of the present Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) in the city as a public garden.

The Karnataka High Court on Monday ruled that the BTC should shift from its present premises on Racecourse Road before September 22, 2010.

Addressing presspersons here on Tuesday, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said the Government would obey the court orders and would develop the area as a garden. The Government would cooperate with the BTC in identifying land for shifting the club, he said.

Taking note of the large-scale felling of trees on and around Racecourse Road and the failure of the authorities to plant trees, the High Court had repeatedly asked the State to desist from putting up any construction on any place in the present BTC area, and to maintain it as a mini-forest.

Asked whether there was any proposal under the consideration of the Government for construction of high rises in the BTC area, the Chief Minister said the Government would consider some other area for the purpose.

Stating that a lot of development works had been executed in Bangalore after the Bharatiya Janata Party Government came to power, Mr. Yeddyurappa said development would be expedited if the BJP came to power in the city corporation elections also. He added that the Government proposed to construct four bus terminals and vegetable markets in four locations in the city, 20 parking multi-storeyed complexes and 10 sky walks where the density of vehicles and pedestrians was high.

Police at bay, snarl makes motorists fume

Police at bay, snarl makes motorists fume
Bangalore, Mar 24, DHNS

Some gnashed their teeth, some uttered unmentionables, others vented their spleen at each other and yet others made the traffic snarls in central Bangalore on Wednesday worse by trying to overtake and squirm their way through rows of immobile automobiles.

The three-hour-long jam was the outcome of BWSSB repair work in a small stretch between GPO and Minsk Square, throwing vehicular movement out of gear and causing immense hardship to commuters under a blazing sun.

The traffic chaos that followed was worse around Chinnaswamy stadium and as the minutes rolled into hours -- between 3 pm and 6 pm, which is peak traffic time anyway -- automobiles rolled into a grinding halt. Cars and other vehicles lined up behind each other in several rows at Balekundre Circle, Residency Road, St Mark's Road, Queen's Road, Minsk Square, Kasturba Road, Police Thimmaiah Circle, CTO, Coffee Board junction, Infantry Road and the High Court surroundings.

The few traffic constables stationed at these locations to manage the traffic were lost in the sea of vehicles, struggling to control the situation that the police complained was the result of the BWSSB’s day-time repair work.

BWSSB is believed to have failed to give advance notice to the traffic police that its men would be undertaking repair work on a water line in the area. What worsened the situation was a BWSSB truck that was parked right in the middle of the arterial road, causing motorists to jump lanes.

While the traffic constables tried directing the vehicles to take the Cubbon Park route so they could reach Vidhana Soudha after passing the High Court gates, a water tanker got stuck in front of the All India Radio complex. Even as the truck driver attributed the breakdown to a mechanical snag, the cops’ plight was underscored by the trying time they had clearing the serpentine lines of vehicles.

When all seemed to be thrown completely out of gear, a crane mysteriously trundled by to carry the broken truck away. That eased the situation for hundreds of vehicles to inch their way forward, bumper-to-bumper. Wednesday’s snarl prompted a police officer to say he dreaded the day when work on the Metro station would begin at Minsk Square.

It’s raining promises

It’s raining promises
Satish Shile Bangalore, Mar 24, DHNS

Monsoon is still far away but it is already raining, promises, that is.

Candidates in the BBMP poll are not sparing on promises most of which they may not be able to keep. The carrots dangled include adequate water supply, proper underground drainage, smooth roads and many more.

Irregular and insufficient water supply and absence of an underground drainage is the main complaints in low income residential areas. Without batting an eyelid, the candidates confidently assure them of fulfiling the demands, if elected.

But as just corporators, they can’t fulfil the demands. They can only exert pressure on civic agencies to get the work done.

Unlike in cities like Mumbai and Chennai, all civic agencies do not come under the city civic body in Bangalore. Corporators in Bangalore have no say in policy decisions of BWSSB, looking after water supply and sewerage line connection, Bescom or BMTC.

The winning candidate represents people of a particular ward in the BBMP council. The council deals with town planning, development of roads, collection of property tax, health and education services to the public, fulfiling the needs of the weaker sections and managing lakes and parks.

According to Article 70 (power of councillors) of the KMC Act, councillors may draw the attention of the authority concerned to any neglect in execution of corporation work, waste of corporation property or needs of his locality. They may raise issues concerned to civic amenities in the monthly meetings of the Council.

“Representatives from BWSSB and Bescom attend the meetings regularly. They take note of problems raised by the members in the meeting and take corrective measures.
However, the civic agencies do not consult the council for their policy decisions”, said
Mario Pires, additional council secretary, BBMP.

In Chennai and Mumbai, policy decisions concerned to water supply, road traffic, transport facilities are taken by the civic body.

The mandatory reforms under the JnNURM and the reforms recommended by the K Kasturirangan committee include bringing all civic agencies under one head. Once the recommendation is implemented the Council gets authority to have its say in policy decision of all civic agencies.

Former mayor Ramachandrappa said Councillors commands the authority to approach heads of civic agencies and get things done for their wards.

“If you go by the rule book, the civic agencies other than BBMP need not listen to the councillors. But the officers listen to councillors, when they come up with demands,” he said.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Please review the present traffic mess

Please review the present traffic mess

Prahlad Roa

March 14 was a chaotic Sunday — the weekend the Bangalore traffic police decided to spoil the mood of the public in Central Business District.
The police had issued a press note about the changes but the government paper did not mention the shoddy level of ground planning they intended to execute. It only stated that traffic was closed on MG Road from Webbs Junction to Trinity Junction. The rest of the information was, as usual, lost in the fine print.
With one sweeping change, police sent motorists to hell, all the way up to Ulsoor Lake in the north and Austin Town in the south.
A motorist is used to a certain order and rhythm even on Bangalore's clogged roads. For years, they have been used to taking one way to Dickenson Road from Thiruvallavur Statue Circle (officially named Neelakantan Circle) to Dhobhi Ghat. This was the only way for the public coming from the north-east and the north to go to MG Road and Commercial Street. It was also the only way out as St John's Road has since been closed to south-bound traffic from Shree Circle.
On Monday 15, there was a traffic jam lasting for almost an hour, its tail end at Civil Defence office near Tamil Sangam. A heavy contingent of policemen directed traffic from the north towards St. John's Road while allowing traffic from the south towards Thiruvallvur Statue Circle. The traffic, which comprises heavy vehicles going towards Old Madras Road, was diverted as some smart alec had closed the right turn at Adigas Restaurant. (This has since been partially opened to traffic). The biggest folly committed by the police was in converting Brunton Road into a two-way thoroughfare. A road that is not even 30 ft wide, where even one-way traffic used to move in slow motion.
The traffic police notice clearly tells a motorist going to Old Airport Road to take a right turn on Brunton Road. This is where heavy traffic meets head-on with the vehicles coming from Old Airport Road and Richmond Road.
Most of these changes are thoughtless and at best sadistic. The last one week has been a bewildering puzzle for all those who visit CBD. Traffic snarls have been the order of the day at Dickenson Road, Dispensary Road Junction and on Brunton Road —changes that were unnecessary at these two important crossroads. The traffic police seem to have forgotten the basic rule that discharge of traffic is as important as its movement. Discharge involves providing various options of traffic dispersal from the main arterial road which is for movement.
Old Airport Road traffic should have a discharge option at Primrose Lane and Ulsoor Road-Kensignton Road (opposite Taj Residency). Brunton Road can only handle one-way traffic.
As traffic going towards Old Madras Road is very heavy, it should be taken off CBD as quickly as possible. Ulsoor Road is the main option till the Metro vacates Trinity Circle while the Dickenson Road and Dhobhi Ghat sections remain crucial for east-bound traffic.
The police should do a review of the current mess and come up with innovative management of traffic volumes which cannot be wished away.