‘A camel looks like a horse that was planned by a committee,’ goes an old adage. Bengaluru has had more than its fair share, from the Bangalore Agenda Task Force to ABIDe, formed by different governments over the years. Without better decision-making power, they end up defunct and toothless. With the Kasturirangan Report still awaiting implementation, what can we expect from the high-powered committee headed by IT Czar Narayana Murthy, which CM H.D. Kumaraswamy feels will be the answer to the city’s infrastructure problems, asks Aknisree Karthik
It’s almost inevitable. Now that the state has a new government in place, it time for a new expert committee to help make Bengaluru a truly global city. While the Siddaramaiah government set up a Bengaluru Vision Group, the H D Kumaraswamy- led government believes IT czar, Narayana Murthy and other experts need to come to its rescue in solving the many issues plaguing Bengaluru.
But will this committee too end up becoming just another body of experts, whose contribution will be next to nothing to the city? After all, the city has had several such committees in the past. In the nineties former Chief Minister, S M Krishna set up the Bangalore Agenda Task Force, in 2000 the Yeddyurappa government formed the Kasturirangan Committee to advise it on improving the quality of governance in the city, and in 2010, in his second stint in power, Mr Yeddyurappa set up the Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development Task Force (ABIDEe).
With every new government the old expert committee is discarded and replaced with a new one. But the result is always the same. Almost next to nothing. Says Mr Srinivas Alavilli, co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru, "We must learn from the past committees before yet another expert committee is set up by the new government. If the committees really did something useful, the city’s problems wouldn’t be getting worse year after year. While some of their ideas are good, they are never taken seriously. In some cases, they propose ideas like elevated corridors as solutions to traffic which real mobility experts of our the city denounce.Also, these committees tend to be exclusive and represent only certain sections of society. While the city has 10 lakh IT employees, it also has 10 lakh garment workers. But such committees do not seem to reflect the diversity of the city and don’t give voice to the voiceless."
Other civic activists like Mr D S Rajashekar, president of the Citizens' Action Forum are equally vehement against another committee to look into Bengaluru’s affairs. "We do not have anything against Infosys co-founder Mr Narayana Murthy or his credibility. He is an expert and a giant in his own field. But when it comes to the city, the people and elected representatives should receive importance," he contends.
Recalling the previous such committees set up by other governments he asks pertinently, "What happened to ABIDE and the Bangalore Agenda Task Force ? They all turned out to be a total failure in addressing the issues of Bengaluru in a holistic manner.”
The activist says he fails to understand why successive governments are dragging their feet on the Metropolitan Planning Committee(MPC) and implementing the Kasturirangan report .
“We have already written to the Chief Minister that the views of the people and elected representatives should be considered first. This committee, if it is set up, will be unconstitutional as it will not be accountable to citizens. People can at least go and approach their elected leaders on what they want for their city. But can they go and tell Mr Narayana Murthy any of this?" he demands, adding, “Instead of weakening the MPC by setting up expert committees, it must be strengthened.”
Mr Kshitij Urs of People's Campaign for Right to Water, says Mr Kumaraswamy should realise that forming another expert committee will serve no purpose. "The previous expert committees just pushed anti-people ideologies. Be it the multi-crore TenderSURE project or the like, decisions were centralized with no scope for people’s views. We have nothing against Mr Murthy, but we are against the unconstitutional expert committees,” he concludes....