The biggest malaise: Lack of transparency in governance
Harish Kumar, General Manager, Namma Bengaluru Foundation
The quality of life in Bengaluru has been in continuous decline, despite thousands of crores of rupees being spent each year by civic agencies like BBMP, BDA, BWSSB, KSPCB and others. The green cover is dwindling, traffic density is increasing unchecked, air quality is deteriorating, water bodies are shrinking. There’s garbage everywhere, still no proper pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and roads riddled with potholes. And all these problems are symptoms of a deep-rooted disease. That disease is governance, or the lack thereof, in many spheres, where nobody is held accountable for anything.
The agencies responsible for Bengaluru are operating in silos, without a comprehensive plan or proper coordination. How else do we explain a situation where the BBMP lays down a nice road on one day and on the next, the BWSSB has arrived to dig it up? There is neither transparency nor people’s participation in Bengaluru’s governance. For years, agencies have managed to wriggle their way out of financial auditing, let alone providing details of their expenditure to the people. The irony is, all these elements have been mandated under the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act (Nagarapalika Act), which has been existence for 25 years but never put into practice. If this piece of legislation is implemented in letter and spirit, most of Bengaluru’s issues can be addressed. We wish to see this happen immediately.
We need sincere implementation of existing laws and some reforms in the way the city is governed. Transparency in spending is the most critical element in this this. Let spending up to the ward level be put in the public domain. A reform that needs to go along with this is social auditing. The Metropolitan Planning Commission needs to be put in place for Bengaluru, which includes water, air land, transport, green space and social welfare to name a few. This is one of the few big steps that needs to be taken. The execution of the steps needs to be looked into – as the saying goes, the devil is in the details!
‘Make sure our women are safe’
Co-founder Shakti & Citizens for Bengaluru
The epic saga is finally over with the BJP clinching a decisive mandate in the bypolls. As a female citizen of this city, a majority mandate is hope for a strong commitment to make Bengaluru safer for women.
The character of a city is defined at the very top, and if our Chief Minister, also Home Minster, sends a clear directive of zero tolerance to sexual assaults on women, much can transform. Zero tolerance does not imply that there will be no crimes against women; or that every single case will lead to a conviction. That would be unrealistic.
Zero tolerance does mean that under no circumstances will state machinery blame or penalise the victim for the crime or make it her onus to avoid it. The state must assume its full share of responsibility for the safety of half its population without ifs and buts.
The CM must expect of Karnataka police, a genuine attitude of reform, not defensiveness.
They must engage women of all strata with their varying needs - working women and their needs of public transport, household help with unusual working hours, homemakers traveling for school pickups and groceries mid-day, students etc., to understand what makes them unsafe. Further, police must staff its almost 25% vacancies overall, and especially adhere to the law requiring 33% female personnel. Presently, Karnataka is at a dismal 5.4%, infusing low confidence in affected women attempting to complain or seek security.
We are planning to raise these issues to the CM on Sunday December 15th, by assembly peacefully at Town Hall 10 AM - 12 noon. All concerned citizens, men and women are invited to join #NirbhayaDishaMe, for we ourselves must stand up to change this unbearable rape culture.
Rare chance: Start by fixing urban transport
Dr Ashish Verma
Mobility expert, Dept. of Civil Engg., Indian Institute of Science (IISc)
Then the political system is in alignment, as it is now, with BJP in power at the Centre, State and in the BBMP, we get a golden opportunity to rejuvenate the individual quality of life and liveability in the city that one was used to in the past. ‘Quality of Life and Liveability’ needs to be the central goal for urban development intervention that the government has planned to do here in Bengaluru, including with respect to urban transport.
Public transport interventions: To begin with, important projects and interventions that have been stuck or delayed due to political misalignment or bureaucratic hurdles should be fast tracked first. This includes speedy implementation of the suburban rail system and Phase 2 and 3 of Namma Metro, as well as fast tracking the smart city project of Bengaluru. Further, recent political will shown to prioritise the movement of buses via the bus priority lanes, should be extended on a network level to cover all arterial and sub-arterial roads of Bengaluru with strict enforcement of the priority lanes. BMTC fares should be subsidized, at least to the extent that they become cheaper than say, travelling the same distance on a two-wheeler.
Infrastructure for walking, cycling: Good quality, safe and comfortable infrastructure for walking and cycling is an essential intervention required to make the city more liveable; no road or junction crossing should be left out.
Spare us flyovers, please: Most importantly, this opportunity should not be misused to revive and push large road infrastructure projects in the name of solving traffic congestion problems, except to improve surface quality and longevity of the existing roads.
With political alignment, will the stars line up for B’luru?
The author is a member of Solid waste management round table (SWMRT)
olid waste management is one of Bengaluru's most pressing problems. If the government is serious about finding a solution, here’s what it needs to do:
There is an urgent need to roll out the collection and transportation tender contract which has been on hold for the last one year. The collection and transportation should be as planned in the tender, for collection of wet waste only, with GPS-enabled vehicles and tracking through a smart data centre. All outstanding dues on projects and installations, salaries and O&M payments to operators should be cleared immediately and bring vendor confidence in the BBMP. Take stock and revive all the SWM bio methanation, composting and leaf shredding units. Bring out a credible SWM policy and notify the Byelaws in the next three months. Improve the dry waste collection centres which are in shambles.
The five-year agenda
The government has to put segregation at source in the forefront and give it a priority status. There can be no ambiguous approaches by allowing landfilling and mixed waste processing . Give the requisite budgets for localised infrastructure. Acknowledge the citizen participation and give the people their due through incentives and support. Improve the dignity and the working conditions of the waste workers.
The penultimate service that this government can do is to remove the waste management from within the BBMP and create an autonomous SWM body which will professionalise the waste management services and give the City and its citizens the relief that they deserve from the chronic dysfunctional waste management problem that has become synonymous with Bangalore.
SWMRT has since 2009 been working as a voluntary group of individuals, bringing their expertise as SWM practitioners , waste management solution & service providers, representatives of waste-pickers & waste workers, and individual activists , and collectively working towards the cause of sustainable decentralised waste management in Bangalore
Dear corporator, the onus is on you: give us clean air, clean water, clean roads
Brand Guru & Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults iNc.
A stable government is the dream of all. Never mind at what level, whether it be at the Corporation, the State legislature or the Lok Sabha, the desire of the citizen is forever for a stable government. While politicians possibly enjoy unstable governments for various reasons of their own, citizens love stable-state governments that offer progressive stable governance.
Karnataka finally has one, after one and a half years since the last election for the State legislature. All of a sudden, after the Mini by-poll results that has swept in the BJP with new seats, means that the BJP rules at the BBMP, the State legislature and at the centre! This has happened after a long while. Karnataka has forever mean in aberration on this.
And now that this has happened, what can we expect, and more importantly, what do we want?
For us in the city of Bengaluru, the most important entity of them all is the BBMP corporator. The role of the local corporator is to raise and resolve issues that relate to the ward he or she represents. To that extent, this is local self governance in practice. The most important person for the citizen in Bengaluru is the Corporator.
What does IT want? What does BT want? What does the business ecosystem of Bengaluru want from the governments that rule us and our lives?
Nothing at all really! Nothing from anyone except the Corporator really! And from this one persona we want a lot. We want clear air, clean water, clean roads, clean governance and a clean traffic flow in our lives. Much of this is in the domain of the BBMP. A little bit of it is in the domain of the State Government and precious little is at the doorstep of the Union Government.
As Bengaluru businesses in IT, BT and business at large, remain self-sufficient and self-governed with efficiency, the demand is for a smoother life for those who work in the domain of business. Commute time is the biggest issue in bengaluru. Garbage handling, burning of dry leaf and garbage(which even government establishments continue wantonly, for example the Air Force Camp in Mugugeshapalaya), the condition of roads, the potholes, the situation of dug up roads, the situation of poor water and air quality and such basic hygiene issues of life need to be attended to.
I just hope this straight line of one party in the BBMP, the State Legislature and at the Union Government will help Bengaluru with all its demands, basic as they are. We don’t want anything big. We want the basics. And nothing more. And most certainly nothing less!...