Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Flush with funds, city goes back to the drawing board

Flush with funds, city goes back to the drawing board

More money spent and more works in endless progress. That, in a nutshell, the status of civic and infrastructure works in Bangalore over the past two years.
A whopping Rs 18,872 crore has been set aside in the government’s latest budget for Namma Bengaluru to be spent over the next three years. According to government sources, Rs 6,200 crore of the total amount will be spent this fiscal.
Despite the big money on paper, the long wait for completion of a few projects is rather worrying for experts and the common man. This, when there are also talks of additional projects like the High Speed Rail Link (HSRL) and the Monorail.
It’s not the money now, but a proper audit of works in progress alongside better co-ordination among agencies and transparency of the accounts that’s most needed for Bangalore development.

• On the civic front, the biggest success has been the BBMP polls leading to the formation of new council after a long wait of over three years. But, it’s still incomplete without the standing committees. Even the two main promises in the party manifesto during the assembly elections in 2008 — direct election of mayor with a three-year term is yet to fructify. There’s also been very little or no progress on recommendations of the Kasturirangan Committee Report on 74th amendment of the Constitution.

• The government task force Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDe) has also not been very successful in implementing many of its dream projects. Many proposals remain on paper and as proposals on its website.
Promise in the manifesto

• Direct election of the mayor with three-year term — Not achieved

• Akrama-Sakrama policy — Not achieved

• Thrust on Infrastructure, multilevel parking, Metro Rail, pedestrian infrastructure, seamless traffic — In progress

• Property tax under a revised Self Assessment Scheme — Achieved
Promises made by minister

• Akrama Sakrama

• Revised property tax

• BBMP elections

• Development of markets
Extent of over/under achievement

• Have those projects taken off ? What stages are they in? Last two years: Completed

• Property tax collection under revised SAS scheme

• Total 1038.35 km of roads across city asphalted and 237.58 km of road were made concrete

• 11 underpasses by BBMP at the cost of Rs 23 crore

• Development work in 15 packages for storm water drain taken up at the cost of Rs 490 crore

• Converting 12 high density corridors as signal free corridors (estimate: Rs 2,500 crore)

• 600 km of road to be widened across the five new BBMP zones (estimate: Rs 2,350 crore

• Construction of six flyovers (estimate: Rs 2,350 crore)

• Railway under/over bridges at 40 points (estimate: Rs 355 crore)

• Construction of five new grade separators (estimate: Rs 85 crore)
Expert comment on overall performance
Disappointing, when compared to the high expectations. Speed of project execution has been slow — whether it is roads, grade separators or Metro Rail. The ener gy deficit and regular load shedding are worrisome. Water shortages plague many areas. One worries about flooding in the monsoon since drain work is incomplete and there are so many ongoing projects. HSRL is a pointless project. Pedestrians are neglected in infrastructure planning. Solid landfills yet to be implemented fully.
The positives? The Big 10 bus initiative is working well. Electronic City expressway is completed and there’s an intent to fix Bangalore infrastructure.
— V Ravichandar | civic expert MINISTERSPEAK There’s been fantastic work on civic and infrastructure in Bangalore. Our peak areas of development in the past two years has been the roads, flyovers, lake deve l o p m e n t and Phase-1 of Metro Rail. Apart from Rs 3,000 crore in our firstyear budget, we have also now proposed to spend another Rs 22,000 crore in the next three years only on the city and its infrastructure. A concrete decision on Akrama-Sakrama will also be taken in the next assembly session.
—R Ashoka | Bangalore in-charge minister
It’s a long list of works in progress. Very few of them have been completed. Phase-1 of the 42-km Metro Rail has progressed from a 1% growth to almost 20% growth in two years. The first coaches are expected in December 2010. Grand plans for Phase 2 apart, talks of the HSRL and Monorail as feeder services to it are also on. This apart, a total 1,187 civic works worth Rs 311.48 crore is currently in progress across all 16 assembly constituencies that come under BBMP limits. This also includes projects taken up under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JN-NURM). WATER & POWER CITIZENS ARE THIRSTY AND POWERLESS TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Promises made in the manifesto and by the minister

• The state government had increased the budget provision for irrigation projects to Rs 4,714 crore. It had promised special efforts for a comprehensive survey and rejuvenation of all water bodies and tanks.

• To improve drinking water supply to Bangalore, Rs 600 crore was allotted and Rs 100 crore for recycling underground drainage water leading to tanks.

• Around Rs 500 crore was allocated for Upper Bandra Project, 63,000 hectares land was promised for irrigation facilities and Rs 2193 for implementation of Chimmalagi Lift Irrigation project in Bijapur.
Many water projects were announced in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 budgets. This includes allocation for Cauvery IV Stage II Phase. With the initial delay in the project, work has slowly picked up pace. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) expects to complete the project by 2012 and supply water to the newly added BBMP areas.
The state government had increased the budget provision for irrigation projects to Rs 4714 crore. They had promised for special efforts for comprehensive survey and rejuvenation of all water bodies and tanks. Though there has been a delay in starting the Cauvery IV Stage II Phase project, the BWSSB has promised to complete it by December 2011.
Promises have been made to improve the underground drainage system and provide better drinking water supply, but the problems still seem to persist. Experts feel that announcements are aplenty but the delay in implementation of projects is affecting the supply.
Though projects are announced, they are delayed and there is no comprehensive planning to augment water supply. There is no effort towards institutional and capacity building. They are simply not equipped to deal with water crises. This institution should have the right skill to tackle them. It should transform itself into an urban water management institution and get on board a hydrogeologist, ecologists, hydrologists and start to integrate water sources into a water plan for Bangalore. The government has zero plan to cope with climate change.
— S Vishwanath | Rainwater Harvesting Club
BWSSB is working very hard and doing its best to enhance the performance. We have initiated many projects to tackle the water crisis. Besides, the Cauvery IV Stage II Phase, there are many plans to enrich ground water through rain water harvesting. Earlier, there were only two lakh connections, which has now been increased to six lakh. The supply has been the same but the demand is increasing on a daily basis.
—Katta Subramanya Naidu | BWSSB minister
The budget allocation for power for 2009-10 was enhanced to Rs 6107 crore. The government had promised infrastructure for establishment of new power plant with generation capacity of 1015 MW at Udupi. New power plants were promised at Hidkal and Gulbarga. They increased the share capital by Rs 500 crore in Karnataka Power Corporation Limited. They promised to extend Nirantara Jyothi scheme in a phased manner. Also, promises were made to provide electricity to all hutments and thandas of the state and to spend Rs 100 crore under the Ganga Kalyan scheme for electrification of 10,000 irrigation pumpsets for families below poverty line.
Summary of performance
After a lull in the energy sector since the J H Patil regime, the BJP government started new projects to generate power. The long gap had led to the increase in demand.
Karnataka government signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in 2009, with National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) to set up new thermal and wind energy projects in the state with a cumulative capacity of 6,900 MW in the next four years. NTPC will invest Rs 22,500 crore to set up a 4,000 MW thermal power station at Kudigi in Bijapur district and 500 MW wind power plant at six different locations in north Karnataka. Power Corporation of Karnataka Limited (PCKL) signed the MoU with NTPC for the project. The projects will use both domestic and imported coal to run the plants. Another 2,400 MW thermal power station is being set up through a joint venture between Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL), Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and a private player. IDFC has shown interest to be the third partner in the joint venture.
However, the eighth unit of Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS) and second unit of Bellary Thermal Power Station are likely to be commissioned this year. However, it would take another three years to get the other projects commissioned.
This government has inherited an extremely poor power situation. For many years, there was no new investment and generation capacity. There was no attempt to build public opinion when environmentalists were attacking new projects. When BJP government came in, it signed an agreement with the Chhattisgarh government for new generation. They have also initiated new projects. But none of this will deliver power at least by 2013. The energy department of Karnataka has a major short-term and medium-term challenges with the growing demand.
— S L Rao | Chairman, Institute of Social and Economic Change
The Yeddyurappa-led BJP government completes two years in power on May 30. It’s time then to see which ministers are discharging their responsibilities, who must gear up, who are plain inactive and who else should be included in the team.

• Who has been performing well?

• Which minister must pull up his socks?

• Who should be out of the ministry?

• Who else should be included and why?

• Rate these ministers on a scale of 1 to 10, ten being the highest


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