Bangalore to get a facelift, courtesy polls (Karnataka Newsletter)
Garbage-battered Bangalore, where infrastructure development moves at a snail's space compared to the rapidly increasing human and vehicle population, is in for a facelift as assembly elections are fast approaching.
The city improvement, that includes infrastructure upgradation, for which the state government has sanctioned a massive Rs.1,663 crore (300 million USD), is a dire necessity for the city and its population of over eight million that is seen as India's tech capital.
For the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bangalore's civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), or Greater Bangalore City Corporation, it is an election compulsion if it wants to retain the 17 of 28 assembly seats it won from Bangalore in the May 2008 polls.
Elections to the 225-member assembly are due in May next.
Most of the city's roads are in a poor shape, despite tall promises of the government and the BBMP.
The city has been witnessing an explosive growth since the 1990s when it became an information technology hub.
Armed with the government bounty, Bangalore Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy who has been facing flak from the people as well as the high court for the garbage mess-has announced grand plans for the city. These include five signal-free corridors, the widening and asphalting of roads, nine multi-storeyed parking complexes, solid waste management projects and the rejuvenation of 20 lakes.
Murthy has promised that work on all these projects would begin in March. He has not, however, given the time-frame for completing them.
The immediate worry for the 17 BJP assembly members from the city is the mounting garbage problem.
Four of the assembly members are ministers in Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar's 34-strong cabinet. R. Ashoka is one of the two deputy chief ministers handling home and transport, S. Suresh Kumar is law minister and the lone woman member in the cabinet, Shoba Karandlaje, handles energy.
Shettar is in charge of "all subjects pertaining to Bangalore City, excluding BWSSB (Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board)", according to the Karnataka government's website.
The hefty amount for Bangalore's facelift may help BJP candidates in the coming polls boast how their party cares for the city.
But Bangaloreans' hope for an end to the garbage mess seems to rest on the high court, which has been stinging in its criticism and is also setting a time-frame for carrying out its directions.
Chief Justice Vikramjit Sen had Nov 20 asked the BBMP whether the court should jail top officials to make it work.
He directed the state government and BBMP to submit within two weeks a status report on measures taken to end the garbage menace.
He also directed that in the next two weeks, seven landfills should be readied to receive solid waste, a wet processing waste plant should start functioning in all the 28 assembly constituencies within two months. Besides, he said, such facilities should start functioning in all the 198 wards of BBMP in four months.
Bangaloreans generate 5,000 tonnes of garbage daily. They have been pulled up by the high court earlier for not segregating waste into solid and wet.
The city has over four million vehicles for a population of eight million. On an average, 1,000 vehicles are registered in the city each day, according to police.
(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)