Bengaluru Buzz: Advisory for ‘global’ city | 1,213 flaws in BBMP’s work … and more

Other news of the week: BBMP may increase zones to 12, details on Gruha Lakshmi scheme, Bengaluru will lead EV jobs boom, and 4 new Metro lines by Nov

Advisory group to build ‘global’ city

The government will launch a Vision Bengaluru Advisory Group with important personalities from technology, to offer new thinking to steer towards a ‘Global Bengaluru’, Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar said on June 5th. It will comprise “many stakeholders” who have invested here, generated jobs and development. He said the projects by civic agencies will be mapped at the ward level to bring in accountability and transparency.

The advisory group will include civil society representatives, industry captains, and urban planners. DKS wants to steer ‘Brand Bengaluru’ towards ‘Better Bengaluru’ and ‘Global Bengaluru. He said that he discussed water supply, solid waste management, traffic, and stormwater drain encroachments extensively. He added that there is a need for accountability among officers. He has instructed them to maintain a separate file for works carried out in each ward, with details such as the length of roads, expenditure on asphalting or concretising these roads, and the agency responsible for the work. It should be readily accessible.

DKS said that the group will include personalities, such as Infosys co-founders N R Narayan Murthy and Nandan Nilekani, Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, and Wipro founder chairman Azim Premji.

Meanwhile, D K Shivakumar also visited flood-prone areas to examine the ongoing drainage work and the widening of storm water drain (SWDs) at Yemlur. He told officials to construct a temporary drain. He warned developers who have got a court stay against clearing encroachments over SWDs.

Source: Indian Express, Deccan Herald, The Hindu

Read more: How monsoon ready are the lakes of Bengaluru?

1,213 discrepancies in BBMP works

Recently, an audit of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for 2019-20, by the Karnataka State Audit and Accounts Department, found 1,213 discrepancies, right from fake bills to excess payments. It will be tabled before the PAC (Public Accounts Committee).

In four chapters, it examines BBMP’s financial health, payments made to contractors and shortcomings in revenue generation, in property tax collection, and in the Town Planning Department. There has been a payment of Rs 1,169 crore, which has been disputed on various counts. The BBMP has to recover Rs 173 crore from contractors, due to excessive payments.

Also, the Town Planning Department has collected Rs 26.50 crore less than what property owners owe. The BBMP has failed to follow basic financial management principles and neglected the effective implementation of audit reports. The 61 divisions or departments of the BBMP did not share certain documents when the auditors questioned payments amounting to Rs 259 crore on dubious grounds.

Two common discrepancies are: overestimating the cost of work and issuing work orders at a time when there is only one bidder. Government regulations say that the BBMP should issue a new tender, when there is no competition. Recurring issues include reporting an excessive number of vehicles for garbage collection, lapses in CCTV camera installations and excessive payment, as in the Dasarahalli division’s project cell.

The tender showed that the manual excavation of soft soil was priced at Rs 269 per square metre, although pictures showed that the contractor used machines for excavation, costing only Rs 72 per square metre. It made the BBMP overpay by Rs 22.94 crore. The report was tabled in the legislature and will undergo one more round of scrutiny by the Public Accounts Committee.

Source: Deccan Herald

BBMP may increase zones to 12

While there are proposals to break BBMP into five smaller corporations, the civic body is also planning to increase the number of zones from eight to twelve. The draft is being drawn up on the basis of BBMP Act 2020, which permits a maximum of 15 zones and up to 250 wards.

Last year, the government increased the number of BBMP wards from 198 to 243, but it neither increased the number of zones nor did it change the boundaries. Senior BBMP officials say the zones are being increased to ensure uniform distribution of wards and also make the administration come closer to citizens.

Source: Deccan Herald

Gruha Lakshmi scheme

The eligible female head of families for the Gruha Lakshmi scheme, under which beneficiaries are paid Rs 2,000 a month has confused a number of people. The guidelines were released by the government on June 6th, explaining that women enrolled as Yajamani or head of the family, under Antyodaya, BPL (Below Poverty Line) and APL (Above Poverty Line) ration cards, are eligible for the scheme. There will be no fresh scope to decide any new woman as the head. 

One of the conditions for eligibility states that the woman or her husband should not be paying income tax or filing GST. The beneficiary’s name should be mentioned as head of the family in BPL or APL or Antyodaya cards. People without these cards cannot avail of the scheme.

Eligible beneficiaries can submit their applications between June 15th and July 15th, through the Seva Sindhu portal or at authorised agencies. After that, the beneficiaries will be selected and will get money directly to their bank accounts directly on August 15th.

Meanwhile, the opposition launched a scathing attack on the riders, calling the Congress poll promises an eyewash. But the CMO said that revised guidelines may be issued.

Source: The Hindu

Read more: The cost of high LPG prices: Environmental and health hazards in slums

4 new Metro lines by Nov

There are limited plans to conduct trial runs on the 2-km Baiyappanahalli-K R Puram Metro stretch from the first week of July. The city is prepared to get four more metro lines by November, according to the Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar, after a maiden review of the Namma Metro project. He is also the Bengaluru development minister and visited the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) to discuss metro work, ramping up non-fare revenue and opening new lines.

KR Puram Railway station and metro station
Representative image. Outside a metro station in Bengaluru. Pic: Pragathi Ravi

The lines that will open by July include the 2.1-km Baiyappanahalli-KR Pura line, a missing link in the Chellaghatta-Whitefield Purple Line. The 1.9-km Kengeri-Chellaghatta line will be ready by September. The 3-km Nagasandra-Madavara line, under construction since 2017, will be ready by October. The 19.14-km RV Road-Bommasandra, which links Electronics City, will open by November.

There are also works that will be completed by 2026. The Metro line connection to the KIAL (Kempegowda International Airport Ltd) at Devanahalli will be done by June 2026, as part of the Blue Line, with 17 stations. Airport line will be done by June 2026, plus or minus three months, said DKS. The Silk Board to K R Puram line (Phase 2A) will also be completed by June 2026.

There have also been proposals to the Centre for clearance to take up works of other Metro phases, such as the Phase 3A line from Hebbal to Sarjapur Road. The BMRCL is also trying to increase its revenue, which includes posting ads inside and outside Metro coaches.

Source: Deccan Herald, Indian Express

City will lead EV jobs boom: Report

Bengaluru hopes to become a hub for both manufacturing and innovation in the electric vehicle market, even as it goes through a technology intensive transformation, according to a report by talent solutions provider Careernet. EV jobs saw a compound annual growth rate in India of 110% between 2020 and 2022, of which 28% were in Bengaluru.

Due to the innovation in the city, manufacturing activity around the region is expected. The top jobs in demand in FY22 (20%) were for designing battery management systems that are an integral part of EVs. There was also high demand for support roles, many of which would shift from the traditional vehicle market. The main domain skills in demand will be mainly for engineering and R&D (55%), where the most amount of upskilling would also be required. While the acquisition of such skills would be self-driven by individuals, enabling people in support roles to transition into the EV industry will be undertaken by manufacturers and service providers.

Source: Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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