karnataka-news

New panel is now supposed to improve Bangalore (Karnataka Newsletter)

By V. S. Karnic, Bangalore, Nov 29 : Bangalore's problems - from potholed and congested roads to growing drinking water shortage - keep mounting and it looks like every new government believes that setting up committees is the best way to rid the city of its woes.


The latest is the move by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's Congress government to set up a Metropolitan Planning Committee for Bangalore. If formed, this will be the third panel for a better Bangalore in less than 15 years, during which the city became an IT powerhouse employing thousands, home to massive back-house operations of multinational giants in IT and financial services and a sought after destination for start-ups.

The city's infrastructure did not keep pace with the population growth, both human and vehicular, prompting long-time residents as well as newcomers and casual visitors to grumble about bad roads, traffic snarls, pollution, loss of greenery and mounting garbage.

A solution to the problems seems distant as governments appear content to set up new committees instead of ensuring that already announced programmes are effectively implemented.

The Congress government headed by S. M. Krishna (1999-2004) had set up a Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) to ensure world-class infrastructure for what was billed as one of Asia's fastest growing cities.

Little came of it.

With two coalition governments between 2004 and 2008, the situation was no better.

The BJP which came to power in 2008 for the first time in the state dumped BATF and formed a panel named ABIDe (Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure Development).

As the human and vehicular population continued to rapidly increase the city's problems not only remained but worsened. The city is now home to nearly 10 million people and the vehicle population is over 4.5 million.

Now, the Congress, which on its own returned to power after nine years in the May assembly elections, is promising better times for the city via the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC), a 30-member panel to be headed by the chief minister.

Its task is ambitious, indeed.

Apart from preparing "a metropolitan area draft development plan for five years, preferably co-terminus with the state five year plan", it is to "also indicate policies, strategies and priorities and major projects for a plan period of 25 years," a state government notification said.

Though the notification is dated Nov 7, it came into the public domain only earlier this week.

The urban development department declined to give reasons for not publicising the MPC proposal soon after the notification was issued. It is also not sure when the panel will start functioning.

(V. S. Karnic can be contacted at vs.karnic@ians.in)

--IANS (Posted on 29-11-2013)

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