High rises and water crisis cripple Hebbal

The northern Bangalore's burgeoning part, Hebbal is crippled by water shortage, just as public spaces give way to private projects. Which candidate is best-equipped to deal with Hebbal’s crises?

Hebbal, once considered the northern endpoint of the city, is now the epicentre of its growth, as Bangalore spreads its tentacle-like flyovers in every direction. The last two decades have seen the conversion of what was essentially a cluster of villages, set apart by Hebbal Lake, into one of Bangalore’s busiest and populated suburbs. As Hebbal turned into a gateway for the new airport, driving land prices up, rents and property rates in the heart of the city have rendered it unlivable for a large population. From private gated community projects to IT ‘parks’, Hebbal has witnessed explosive growth without checks and balances or corresponding changes in infrastructure. This has put greater stress on the water table, garbage and drainage systems, just as the indiscriminate appetite for land has swallowed up what little public spaces are available for citizens, not to mention the massive scams involved in granting permissions.

Politically, Hebbal has emerged as a strategically important constituency for all political parties. Incumbent and tainted MLA from the BJP, Katta Subrahmanya Naidu, is taking a backseat, after his key role in several massive land scams. However R Jagadeesh Kumar, Officer on Special Duty in charge of Excise and IT-BT during Naidu’s tenure, has been fielded by the BJP. He is seeking to distance himself from his predecessor’s shadow, while many see him as Naidu’s proxy.

Despite the narrow margin of the 2008 election, H M Revanna of the Congress has been sidelined by the party. Instead, C K Abdul Rahman Sharief, the 29-year-old grandson of Union Minister C K Jaffer Sharief, takes his place. Sridhar Pabbisetty of the Loksatta, ex-COO of IIM(B), is a strong contender from the Loksatta, just as Abdul Azeem, former Assistant Commissioner of Police, looks to ride in on a JD(S) ticket.

In the light of the issues surrounding Hebbal and strong citizen participation, it will be interesting to see which candidate emerges as a winner and on what grounds- on the strength of campaign spend, anti-incumbency, knowledge of civic issues or solutions.


Incumbent MLA

Katta Subrahmanya Naidu won the 2008 elections with 46,708 votes, with a 4951 vote margin over the Congress’ H. Revanna, who secured 41,757 votes.

Despite being former minister in-charge of IT-BT as well as BWSSB and Housing, Katta is better known for sordid stories of abuse of power rather than his achievements or relief provided to the citizens of Hebbal. He stands as main accused in the massive Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB)-ITASCA land scam, along with his corporator son Jagadish and S V Srinivas, Managing Director of Itasca software firm in a case brought before the Lokayukta in 2010. In short, Srinivas, a close associate, proposed to set up an IT/ITES SEZ at Bandikodigenahalli in Devanahalli on 325 acres of land in 2006 to Katta when he was Industries Minister, who took it upon himself to not only push the project to the High Level Clearance Committee, but also allegedly cheat farmers by selling their land to the KIADB using fictitious documents. Katta then floated a front company called InduBuilders, that in reality, was a petrol pump in Hebbal owned by his wife, and appointed the bunk owners as its directors. InduBuilders received kickbacks of Rs 87 crore from the deal, which would have been brushed under the carpet, if local farmers and a Dalit organisation had not kicked up a fuss outside the KIADB office.

Katta has had to cool his heels in jail. He made numerous appeals for court exemption, citing ill-health, and alternately filing and withdrawing petitions to the Lokayukta. His case is still under review. For a detailed profile, see here.

Voters, voters everywhere and not a drop to drink

While Katta was busy carving himself a slice of the grand development pie on the city’s outskirts, Hebbal’s problems have assumed immediate proportions.

There are 2,08,029 voters in the constituency. Hebbal constituency has eight wards, including Radhakrishna Temple, Sanjaynagar, Gangenahalli, Ganganagar, Hebbal, Vishwanatha Nagenahalli, Manorayanapalya and Jayachamarajendra Nagar, as well as a significant pocket of RT Nagar. Out of eight wards, five are rules by BJP councillors.

Just as these wards house politicians, government officials, judges and gated societies full of Bangalore’s better-heeled, Hebbal is also home to some of the most neglected parts of the city. Slums include Chamundinagar, Kousarnagar and Matadahalli, just as Pappanna Huts, Vasanthappa Block and Dalit colonies in Shakti Nagar, Guddadahalli and Geddalahalli take on a more village-like characteristic, lacking basic civic amenities, which are part of this constituency, have several underdeveloped pockets.

Water has now become the one issue that extends across all settlements. Residents in many societies, who used to once receive water every alternate day, now receive water only once in three to four days. Other areas complain of receiving water only once in 20 days, forcing them to rely on the water tanker mafia that cares neither about time-frame of delivery nor the potability of water. Acutely affected areas include Gundappa Reddy Layout, Cholanayakanahalli and Seethappa Layout.

Only four of the eight borewells sanctioned by the BBMP have been dug, out of which only one is equipped with a motor pump, with residents complaining that they were dug without conducting a yield test. Residents who can afford private borewells are forced to dig deeper and deeper, often coming up with silt or discoloured water.

Water contamination is another major crisis in the making. Studies conducted by the Karnataka’s Mines and Geology department in 2003 and 2006 revealed high levels of bacterial contamination and high nitrate levels in the water found in Hebbal Tank, Nagawara, Srirampura, Gedalahalli and other parts of Hebbal. Hebbal’s Citizen’s Action Forum admits that there is uncontained mixing of sewage and drinking water even in the most posh apartment complexes. “The security guards know this, which is why they will not drink the water in the apartments that they work, but fill up their bottles elsewhere,” says one such resident who did not want to be named.

Hebbal Lake, once a source of drinking water for the region, tells the story of the region. Once a public space for all, it was privatised and handed over to the Oberoi Group of Hotels in 2006 to develop for a period of 15 years under the auspices of the Lake Development Authority (LDA). Twice dredged, its ecosystem destroyed, an entry fee levied to the public and those once dependent on it for a livelihood, the Lake is now heavily contaminated by effluents and untreated sewage.

Where then are the public spaces in Hebbal? A cursory internet search only throws up names of RMZ Latitude, Bharatiya City, Nikkoo Homes and every other developer worth his keyword-optimisation in concrete. Look for parks and you’re led to Manyata Tech Park, that usurped over 160 acres of public land under the watchful eye of the SM Krishna and Dharam Singh governments, or Embassy Kirloskar Business Park that promises to change the ‘image’ of the humble Hebbal-Kempapura region. The public parks that do exist for citizens are few and are woefully maintained.

The suburb’s expansion also means uneven road width, with buses facing each other head-on on narrow arterial roads, just as residential areas are undeveloped, pot-hole ridden and lack well-laid out access. Non-stop traffic on the Bellary road is a nightmare for pedestrians.

Hebbal railway station lacks both road access and a foot-overbridge, forcing pedestrians to skirt the tracks from below the Hebbal fly-over, risking life and limb. The station also lacks basic amenities such as drinking water and toilets.

In the meanwhile, the city traffic police have written to the BDA to modify the four-lane Hebbal Flyover to match the six-lane expressway, anticipating a massive bottleneck when the expressway becomes operational.

Add to this the pan-city woes of garbage dumped on the roads and not cleared, drainage that hasn’t been desilted in years and choked stormwater drains. One can only hope the citizens of Hebbal use this picture as a filter to the candidates they choose to represent them this year.

Electoral issues

The 2008 elections were riddled with controversy, as hundreds of voters were deprived of their right to exercise their franchise, with their names missing from the voters’ list. Many allege that almost 25,000 of the 45,000 minority voters were targeted as a means to catapult the BJP to the front of the electoral race. In December, 2012, the now-JD(S) candidate Abdul Azeem submitted a memorandum to the Chief Electoral Officer to look into and rectify the errors in the voters’ list, which has since been examined.

The Election Commission’s latest report specifies that 18,976 voters have been added to the list since April 2013, putting the official number of voters from Hebbal at 210,363. If you have seen your name on the voter roll, but haven’t received your voter ID or EPIC card, here’s a guide on how you can still vote.

Candidates responses

How do candidates plan to address the water problem? At an all-party event where the BJP’s Jagadeesh Kumar was conspicuously absent, responses received included Abdul Azeem’s plans for a desalination plant and bringing issues of contamination to the floor of the house, Sridhar Pabbisetty’s stress on scientific rain-water harvesting, while Rahman Sharief remained ambiguous.

On issues of growth versus infrastructure versus water stress, while Azeem has called for growth to be pushed beyond Yelahanka, Sharief seems to be in the favour of the status quo, with more checks and balances. Sridhar Pabbisetty, on the other hand, looks at granting of permissions only to projects that are willing to experiment with self-sustainability and generating their own water.

Finally, on citizen participation in governance, Sridhar’s background in pushing open, transparent governance that is for the people stood him in good stead. Abdul Azeem stressed on the need for open sessions with citizens, private players and corporators, though not detailing how these would be incorporated as a formal process. Rahman Sharief, for his part, promises to meet citizens regularly.

Profiles of candidates

Candidate, Age Party-
Declared assets/ liabilities and Criminal record Details
16.97 crores
No.46, Hains Road , Frazer Town, Bangalore -560005.
Contact: 9845179999
SSLC from St. Aloysius High School, Cox Town, 1999
Diploma in Enterprises and Entrepreneurs, London School of Business and Finance, 2012.
R JAGADEESH KUMAR (56) BJP Total income:
Self: 6,42,671
Spouse: 6,32,434
Total assets:
13.61 crores
No.4, 6th Cross, Nandi Durga Extension, Jayamahal Bangalore-560046
Contact: 9244260906
BE in Electronics from RV College of Engineering, 1981
SRIDHAR PABBISETTY (34) LSP – Lok Satta Party Total assets:
1.2 crores
No.282, 1st Block BEL Layout, Vidyaranyapura, Bangalore – 560097
Educational qualification:
BE, Computer Science- MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology 1996-2000
PG Software Enterprise Management, IIM-Bangalore
Stockholm School of Economics 2006-2008
MBA, Entreprenuership, Innovation and Marketing 2006 – 2007
Work Experience:
COO, Center for Public Policy, IIM-Bangalore, Dec 2011 to March, 2012: 1 year 5 months
Lead for Social Enterprises at CHF International
Solution Delivery Manager at Zyme Solutions
Aditi Technologies
ABDUL AZEEM (60) JDS – Janata Dal (Secular) Total income declared: 4,26,107
Total assets:
1.87 crores
No.3, 2nd F Main Road, Bhoopasandra Layout, Sanjaynagar, Bangalore-560094.
Contact: 9901987858

Served as Assistant Commissioner of Police, retired in 2004. Served as MLC.

ABDUL BASHEER (65)      RCP – Rani Chennamma Party Total income:
3.87 lakhs
Total assets:
44.2 lakhs
No.3, 3rd Cross, R.Sonnappa Block, Bangalore- 560046
Contact: 9591154220
SSLC, Amrathur Konigal Taluk, Tumkur District
FAKRUDDIN S (45) SDPI – Social Democratic Party of India Total income:
Total assets:
33.8 lakhs
Total liabilities:
5.58 lakhs
No.416, 3rd Main Road, Bhuvaneshwari Nagar, Bangalore – 560032
Studied up to Middle School, Prshat Unnath Pathshala, Pallasamundram, Hindupur, AP, 1985
C.MUNIKRISHNA (53) KJP – Karnataka Janatha Paksha Total income:
5.3 lakhs
Total assets:
7.9 crore
NO.1, Mathru Sri Nilaya, 7th A Cross, C.I.L Layout, Cholanayakanahalli, R.T.Nagar Post, Bangalore – 560032
NARAYANASWAMY (54) BAJP – Bharatiya Dr. B R Ambedkar Janatha Party Total assets:
56.51 lakhs
3 lakhs
No.100, Maruthi Nilaya, 1st Main Road, Cholanayakanahalli
Contact: 9945599264, 8105247739

Education: B.A.

PRABHA SHANKAR (75) MPP – Mahila Pradhana Paksha Total income:
Total assets:
70 lakhs
No.6/2-102, Shivalaya, 15/1, 5th A Main Road Hebbal
Diploma in Fine Art, 1985 at Chitra Kala Parishath
Diploma in Homeopathy, 1993
Practising homeopath.
No assets declared.
No.245, 3rd Main Road, Bhoopasandra Gramatana, Bhoopasandra, Bangalore – 560094
Contact: 9900000947

9th Standard Pass

WASEEM AHMED (36) SDPI – Social Democratic Party of India Total assets:
2 lakh personal loan.
No.383-H-74, 3rd Main Road, 4th Cross, V.R.Puram, Palace Guttahalli, Bangalore-560003
Contact: 080-23563669
Diploma in Pharmacy, MMU College of Pharmacy, Ramnagaram, Bangalore University, 1997
VINOD M (29) RPI – Republican Party of India Total assets:
7.5 lakhs
No.194, Aiyappa Temple Road, Cholanayakanahalli, R.T.Nagar, Bangalore-560032

Vinod M:
SSLC, Impact School, Ganganagar, 1999-2000

M VENKATESH (59) BPRP – Bharatiya Praja Paksha Total income:
1.27 lakhs
Total assets:
60 lakhs
Total liabilities:
4.11 lakhs
No.223, 2nd Floor, 19th Cross, 1st Block, R.T.Nagar, Bangalore – 560032
SUNANDA RAMESH (48) BSRC – Badavara Sharmikara Raitara Congress Total assets:
7.72 lakhs
No. 185, 12th Cross 2nd Main RMV 2nd Stage, Dollars Colony, Bangalore – 560094
Contact: 8722059536
BSc. Bangalore University, 1985    
MUNIHANUMAIAH.M(36) IND Total income:
Total assets:
No.27, Angandi Thimmaiah Layout , Nagashetty halli, Bangalore – 560094
Education: 9886062054
Education: II year PUC Commerce, SYA Pre-University College, 1995-96
MOHAMMED USMAN SHARIEFF (40) IND         Total assets:
1.5 crores
No.9, 5th Cross A Main New Extension, RMV 2nd Stage, Bhoopasandra – 560094
Contact: 9964496887
SSLC-1989, Diploma in IATA, 1993
MANJUNATHA A (33) IND Total assets:
No.201/1, 13th Cross, Ayyappa Block, Manorayanapalya, R.T.Nagar
Contact: 9663607897
II PUC, Bangalore
M MANJUNATH (43) IND Total assets:
2.5 lakhs
No.150, NGEF Layout , RMV 2ne hantha, Sanjaynagar, Bangalore-560094
SSLC, National High School, Basavangudi, 1989
N MADHAVA RAJU (61)    IND Total income:
5.41 lakhs
Total assets:
38.60 lakhs
No.32/22, Balaji Residency, RMV 2nd Stage, AECS Layout, Bangalore – 560094
Contact: 9886467459
SSLC Government High School, Athimanjeripet, Changalpet District, Tamil Nadu
Civil contractor
4.81 lakhs
Total assets:
15 crores
Golf Link Apartment, 10th Floor, No.10F, Cunningham Road, Bangalore- 560052.
Contact: 7760635411
SSLC in Marie Niketan High School, St. Mary’s Town, Bangalore
R KRISHNAPPA (67) IND Total income: 41.63 lakhs
Total assets: 12.65 crores
No.105, 4th Cross Ganganagar, Papanna Block, Bangalore – 560032
Contact: 9845265249
HARISH 2(8) IND Total assets:
69.5 lakhs
No.240, Guddadahalli, Gangamma Layout Bangalore-560032
Contact: 9008600997
9th Standard, High School
S.K.DHANARAJ (54) IND Total income:
6.5 lakhs
Total assets:
1.89 crores
Total liabilities:
9.1 lakhs
No.11/8, 3rd Cross Hoskerahalli, BSK 3rd Stage, Bangalore – 560085
SYED MUSTAFA (43) IND Total assets:
No.45/2, 2nd Cross, Gangappa Block, Bangalore – 560032
BE, Mechanical, 1993
SHABEER PASHA (42) IND Total income:
6 lakhs
Total assets:
73.2 lakhs
32.45 lakhs
No.48, 6th Cross, Kanakanagar, R.T.Nagar Post, Bangalore – 560032
Contact: 9035249873
No assets or income declared.
No.170, D.Rajgopal Road, Nagashetty Near Halli Bus stand, Sanjaynagar Post, RMV 2nd Stage, Bangalore – 560094
Contact: 9886722006
Education: SSLC, Bangalore, 1999
R.RAGHU (37) IND Total assets:
11.25 lakhs
NO.49, 2nd Cross, Naralappa Layout, V.Nagenahalli Main Road, Guddadahalli, R.T.Nagar Post, Bangalore-560032
SSLC, Bangalore, 1999
NALLE GOWDA N (43) IND Total assets:
71 lakhs
No.81, AECS Layout, 4th Main Road, Sanjaynagar, Bangalore – 560094
BSc., Bangalore
Politician and social worker.
NAGARAJA SHETTY (42) IND Total income:
3.43 lakhs
Total assets:
1.28 crore
No. 267, 11th A Cross, Kanakanagar, R.T.Nagar post Bangalore – 560032
Contact: 9845058240
B.Com, Sheshadripuram Evening College, Bangalore University

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