Bengaluru Buzz: Rs 3,400 cr for lakes | Citizens slam govt’s delay … and more

Other news of the week: Metro's Purple Line by year end, annual Lalbagh flower show, and maintenance of public toilets to be outsourced.

Rs 3,400-cr plan for lakes

In his 77th Independence Day speech at the Field Marshal Manekshaw Parade Ground, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah promised a Rs 3,400-crore action plan to preserve and revive lakes and invest Rs 1.4 lakh crore every year to achieve a 15 % to 16 % growth rate.

He said that the plan to revive lakes and waterbodies is being drawn up to ensure that pure drinking water is supplied to urban areas. However, ecologists were sceptical. Ram Prasad from Friends of Lakes said that it is only an announcement, just like those of earlier governments.

He suggested that the Karnataka Tank Conservation and Development Authority (KTCDA) should frame standard operating procedures for rejuvenation and maintenance of lakes and reconstitute its technical approval committee with ecologists, experts, limnologists, civil engineers and toxicologists. Another activist said that the CM should address the loopholes in implementation. Funds were allocated years ago to carry out restoration but they were never done.

Meanwhile, the CM mentioned that the five guarantee schemes, such as Shakti, Gruha Jyothi, Anna Bhagya, Gruha Lakshmi and Yuva Nidhi will ensure social justice.

Source: Deccan Herald, Indian Express, The New Indian Express

Read more: Govt claims 47 lakes developed and 17 underway, but this is not quite true

Citizens slam govt for delay in projects

Even though civil contractors gave the government a deadline of August 30th to settle pending bills, the government wants to delay it to carry out further investigation. The public works department minister, Satish Jarkiholi, said that contractors might have to wait for two years.

The Karnataka State Contractors Association (KSCA) has warned that the delay would hit development, as the contractors’ funds are locked up and they cannot take on new work. This reluctance to grant permission has drawn ire from citizens and urban experts, who said that having halted every project, the government should stop collecting taxes from residents.

This is clearly a fallout of the 40% commission allegation that the Congress levelled against the BJP before the Assembly elections. Civil contractors protest the Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar’s proposal to revisit the civil infrastructure contracts implemented by the previous government, between 2019 and 2023, preceding the release of Rs 710 crore for payment of bills generated by contractors for their work.

Opposition members and even some contractors allege that Shivakumar’s proposal is only a ruse by the Congress to collect its share of commissions from contractors.

Source: The Times of India, The Hindu, Indian Express

Purple Line by year end

The Purple line of Bengaluru Metro, comprising the rail stretch linking Baiyappanahalli to Krishnarajapuram and the extension from Kengeri to Challaghatta, will become operational by September, said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in his August 15th speech. The launch of both the Baiyappanahalli and Krishnarajapuram sections will ensure seamless connectivity in the East-West corridor from Challaghatta to Whitefield.

The CM also announced that the Nagasandra to Madavara expansion in the Green Line, and R V Road to Bommanahalli in the new Yellow Line will begin to operate by December. The total stretch of the network will increase to 175.55 km from the existing 69.66 km network.

Announcing that this is part of the ‘Brand Bengaluru’ initiative, the government’s objective is to take the city to international standards, with a focus on smooth traffic flow, management of solid waste, proper utilisation of public places, proper health of livestock and people, introduction of people-friendly e-administration, water security, and management of challenges from natural calamities.

The government’s ride-hailing app plan is also speeding up. The Transport Department has asked the e-Governance Department to enable mobile applications and launch them in six months.

Meanwhile, residents near the Doddanekundi railway overbridge have complained of experiencing jerks since the metro construction began. The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) is under scrutiny.

On August 12, the BMRCL (Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited) started to conduct a load test of the OWG (Open Web Girder) that had been launched above the track of the Indian Railways between Baiyappanahalli and Benniganahalli metro stations.

Source: Indian Express, The Hindu, Bangalore Mirror, The New Indian Express

Read more: Whitefield (Kadugodi)-Krishnarajapura metro line: Commute time reduced, missing Baiyappanahalli link a concern

Annual Lalbagh flower show

Mountains of waste were thrown outside Lalbagh Garden after the annual flower show, with workers engaged until 3.30 am in collecting, sorting and packing the garbage in sacks. The flower show recorded a footfall of 8.26 lakh registrations this year, with at least 2.45 lakh on August 15th alone. During the weekend alone, there were about 4 lakh, with more numbers in the last three days.

The Horticulture Department earned Rs 3.67 crore from the tickets, Rs 27 lakh from stall rents, and Rs 2.91 lakh from exhibitors’ entry fees.

Lalbagh flower show.
Representative image. The show drew lakhs. Pic courtesy:

The biannual flower shows have a legacy of going back to the pre-World War I era, interrupted only by World War II and the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of Lalbagh’s supervisors, such as H C Javaraya and his mentor, the German botanist G H Krumbiegel, have worked or studied at the Kew Gardens in England.

Source: Deccan Herald, Indian Express

Maintenance of public toilets to be outsourced

BBMP officials have drawn up a plan to outsource the task of monitoring 203 public toilets to private parties, after the High Court directed it to work out remedial measures within three weeks. It will give over charge of maintaining 169 e-toilets for three years and 34 modular toilets for two years, at an investment of Rs 2.6 crore every year. BBMP will pay the private agency to maintain the toilets, while the agency will serve the public for free.

The KSLSA had prepared a status report, pointing out that more than half of the 203 toilets, including 169 e-toilets, cannot be traced. Some of these toilets published on the BBMP’s website are also incorrect.

Though built at a cost of Rs 19.31 crore, their maintenance is poor. Hygiene is not prioritised, while some of them have been dismantled. Other issues include dysfunctional flushes, lack of water and missing doors. Moreover, there is more than 90 % shortage of both toilets and urinals, as the city should have more than 20,000 urinals and 15,000 public toilets.

Source: Deccan Herald

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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