Bangalore Buzz: False quake alarm, BDA complex demolition, low rank on livability index

For busy readers, start your week with a quick recap of some of the important headlines from your city last week.

B’luru ranked in 58th position on livability index

Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri released the ‘Ease of Living Index–2018’ on August 13th. Bengaluru was ranked in 58th place in the overall list, among 111 Indian cities surveyed, based on aggregated scores in four categories: institutional governance, social, economic and physical infrastructure. To ensure accurate reflection of the ease of living in Indian cities through this ranking, marks were awarded against 78 indicators in 15 sub-categories.

Barring the category of open spaces, in which the former garden city fared reasonably well in 16th place, Bengaluru was at the bottom of the list for the most part. The following is a list of some of the lowest positions secured.

  • Identity Culture–> 75th position
  • Housing and Security–> 87th position
  • Power supply–> 95th position
  • Safety and Security–> 107th position
  • Health–> 109th position

While the poor rankings in the index indicate the areas on which the city must focus its efforts, it must be remembered that Bengaluru has had its share of accolades too in globally recognized surveys in the past. For example, real estate firm JLL conducts annual market research in a dossier titled the ‘City Momentum Index’. In 2018, Bangalore featured in the number two spot on JLL’s top 30 cities with Short Term Momentum potential. It had also declared Bengaluru as the most dynamic city in the world in 2017. Once again in the same year, Bengaluru was said to be the fifth most cheapest city to live in the world, according to the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Source: The Times of India | Bangalore Mirror | The Hindu | Huffington Post | Business Line | Livemint

Citizens oppose razing BDA complex for commercial gain

On August 1th , Bangalore Central MP P.C Mohan, and incumbent MLA S Raghu, protested along with vehement citizen activists groups, I Change Indirangar and United Bengaluru, against the razing of the BDA complex in Indiranagar.  The unplanned project will result in the eviction of 165 tenants and other business ventures operating within the complex, that also houses the Regional Transport Office.

The protesters stood together in strong opposition against the construction of a monstrous 6,50,000 sq ft. large mall and 3,50,000 sq ft office rental space. All this would be made possible by cutting 171 old trees, in and around the land belonging to the public.  The citizens demanded that the BDA hold a consultation with them before the Rs 657-worth crore project starts.

Paying little heed to the residents concerns, the BDA has inked the deal,  supposedly necessitated by the poor earnings of Rs 2 crore per annum from the property, far exceeding the maintenance charges. The BDA struck gold third time around when inviting tenders, after unsuccessfully calling for tenders in 2015 and 2016. The Embassy Group and Maverick Holdings are ready to develop the area located in the 75 metre buffer zone around Kadirena Palya Lake.  Under the Public Private Partnership model supporting the relocation of tenants, the ambitious plans of the two companies might possibly take shape with an SPV created for the purpose.

Unsure of the government’s interests, citizens of Indiranagar continue to rally and have neatly fleshed out their concerns in this blog published by Citizen Matters. A tree census mapping the area around the complex is going to be undertaken voluntarily by the citizens themselves.

Source: The Hindu | Deccan Chronicle | Citizen Matters Bengaluru

False alarm: Not an earthquake, geologists offer theories

Window panes rattled violently and loud blasts were heard in Bengaluru South and West areas on August 16th between 3 pm to 4 pm in what seemed to be an earthquake. Local news channels were quick to pronounce a disaster,  adding to the frenzy on social media and Whatsapp. However, the earthquake observatory in Tippagonadahalli did not show the slightest signs of an impending earthquake.

The misconceptions were cleared by the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC). Scientists said that this phenomenon, called the boom effect, results from blasting and construction work causing minor seismic displacements beneath the earth. Another possibility they considered was the air-molecule oscillation, which is the collusion of hot and cold air layers, occurring in close proximity to the earth’s atmosphere. A recent incident in Chikmagalur District resembled what happened in Bengaluru.

Source: The Hindu | The Times of India

New six-car coaches for purple line soon

On August 10th, the BMRCL recorded an astounding number of 2,30,990 passengers using the purple line, bringing in Rs 50, 85, 711 of income on the day. To manage this kind of demand, the city’s second six-car coach is going to start its operation on the Mysuru Road-Baiyappanahalli route, part of the crowded purple line.  Spokespersons from Bharath Earth Movers Limited (BEML) said they are waiting for clearance from Metro officials to speed up the procedure and go ahead. The addition shortly after the platform at Baiyappanahalli station was expanded recently.

BMRCL’s expansion of Metro connectivity, aimed at managing the growing ridership, is moving at a swift pace. Another set of six-car coaches are expected to start running in mid October. Towards the goal, BMRCL is finalizing tenders to expand the 18-km line along Outer Ring Road. 

At present, the five contractors working on the construction of the Metro across Bengaluru are IL&FS Engineering and Construction Company, Nagarjuna Construction Company, Simplex Infrastructure, and ITD  Cementation India. All of whom have placed bids, but IL&FS Engineering is the front-runner. The company has placed the lowest bid to build the proposed elevated line from Silk Board to Bellandur. The agreement for this is not yet final as the routine evaluation of the financial viability of the tender is expected to be completed only by the month’s end.

Source: The New Indian Express | Economic Times

Solutions suggested to maintain Bellandur lake

A three-week long series of talks and reports showcasing the work of tireless activists, lake-development groups and individuals, has brought to the fore many workable solutions to the crisis surrounding water bodies. One of these was suggested by Professor KS Bhat representing Sarakki Lake Improvement Trust (SLIT) to study the health index of Bellandur lake . Hypothetically, this could be categorised under various indicators, for example the quality of water, aquatic life and encroachments, explained the professor.

A politician who has been fighting a litigation to revive lakes made yet another recommendation. JD(S) Rajya Sabha member D Kupendra Reddy asked the central government not to leave out Bellandur and Varthur lakes from the Blue Revolution plan. According to him, floating nets used to breed and grow fish in lakes, which is an integral part of the planned scheme to provide caged-fish farming, could also be adopted in the foaming city lakes.

Source: The Times of India

Trains and flights to Kerala cancelled, Bengaluru sends relief

Life had come to a standstill when the rain gods unleashed fury in Kerala for passengers flying between Kochi International Airport and Kempegowda International Airport. A minimum of ten flights did not take off as per schedule on August 15th. Kochi airport stopped operating till 2 pm on Independence day, holding back flights from Air Asia, Indigo, and Spice Jet. More flights will face the same plight as Kochi airport will stay shut till August 26.  Similarly, nearly 6500 train-tickets were cancelled on August 15, for which the Railways has already refunded Rs 29 lakh to the passengers.

Help is being sent across to Kerala districts from Bengaluru.  Non Governmental Organisations such as Hira Foundation Trust, Drive Without Borders Foundation, ECHO, AIFO, and Humane Universal Good Deed Network are reaching out to people for donations on social media and Whatsapp. They are transporting food, clothes, sanitary pads, toothbrushes, bed-sheets, boats and life-jackets to the flood ravaged state. Sankara Eye Hospital, Avohi, Keli Cultural Organisation, Mid-Way City Owners Association, Tanzeb- Reviving an Era of Embroidery, and Confederation of Indian Industries are the key drop-off points for people wanting to contribute to the Do For Kerala initiative.

Source: The Times of India | The New Indian Express |

High Court tells Palike to submit clearer affidavit on ad banner removal
The display of advertisements, flexes, hoardings and banners in public spaces has been banned for a period of one year from August 6th by the Karnataka High Court. The Advocate General filed an affidavit pointing out the absence of supervision by officers in implementing the High Court’s orders issued on August 1st. The Palike informed the court on August 10th that the process is on-going, and the progress made so far has amounted to 21,400 flexes, 887 hoardings, and 2249 wall writings being removed.

To accomplish the task, BBMP is leaving no stone unturned. The commissioner has written to BESCOM requesting power supply to be stopped for illuminated hoardings, and is also seeking the Ugly Indian’s help to keep graffiti off the walls.

In response to the HC, BBMP stated that the geography of the city needs to be understood with more clarity to implement the rule to the full extent. The court was unsatisfied with the explanation and asked for a more specific affidavit with better justifications. The BBMP’s lawyer obliged, and said that a more detailed letter will be submitted shortly.

Opposition leaders have taken objection to the advertisement policy that has been two years in the making, saying it resembles the capital’s and was not applicable here.  A recently published article by Citizen Matters highlights the various problems related to the bye-laws and revenue-collection among other issues holding back the Palike. It remains to be seen if the deadline to remove unauthorized advertisements stays at August 31st.

Source: Deccan Herald | Deccan Chronicle | The Hindu | The New Indian Express | Citizen Matters Bangalore

Compiled by Seema Prasad

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