Twelve point program to save Bengaluru
Twelve point program to save Bengaluru
Given how the things have panned out over last few years City Bangalore is losing its sheen and if nothing is done the city is surely doomed. The lack of planning and focus, mismanagement, and corruption has all contributed to it. As a result the cost of living is the highest in India, and even higher when compared to many big cities worldwide. Quality of living on the other-hand has taken a deep dive and become worst. It’s very common to see expats complaining that cost of living is more than that of US, and quality of life abysmal. Software biggies have stopped hiring folks in Bangalore, as their starting salary of 3-4 Lakhs isn't enough for even basic sustenance.
Public transport is very expensive and unaffordable, and most routes are not properly planned. I live on Outer Ring road Mahadevapura, and work in Embassy Golf Link Business Park Domulur which is nearly 12 Km. Almost 50K people work in this technology park. In-order to reach my office, I have to change 3 buses, and it nearly costs me Rs 150 via an AC Volvo to get to office. If I take my petrol car I can reach from point to point, at just Rs 60 (with Diesel it would be much cheaper), and I haven't accounted if other folks travel with me. BMTC Bus ticket to Airport from many parts of Bangalore costs Rs. 300, if two people have to travel, dropping them via personal car comes out to be much cheaper. In a nutshell Public transport encourages you to bring your vehicle on the road. After 6-7 years, Metro has covered only couple of main routes and none of these captures routes for software professionals which account for most of jobs in Bangalore.
Roads, I don't need to speak anything about roads, the whole world knows about it. The potholes are so big and deep, many two wheelers have died avoiding these, and as result coming under big vehicles. The Govt. is apathetic and different Govt. agencies (BBMP, BWSSB, BESCOM) start to blame each other, and try to prove they were not responsible. Employees of various Govt. agencies and political class have no respect for human life. No wonder some Officials from these agencies and quite a few politicians have been busy filling their coffers.
Road taxes are highest in Bangalore. Road transport department along with politicians act as a mafia to loot people who have moved from other states. Politicians would enact laws to maximize the taxes. I know a few acquaintances who ended up paying 3 times the lifetime tax (they paid in state of purchase) seven years after moving their vehicle to Bangalore.
Real Estate this is again a mafia of officials from various state agencies. It is impossible to register a property without paying Bribe. If you go directly the Govt. official he would find a lot of issues with your file, and delay it. Once you provide money, it moves very fast. BESCOM, BWSSB and BBMP charges are highest in the country. For instance just BESCOM would garner more than 75 thousands for a 2 BHK apartment. Amounts from other agencies are even higher. Even after such a huge payment, BESCOM service is the worst, there is a huge fluctuations in the voltage of the power they supply. Worst is even though the power is available at national exchange grid as there is excess capacity, BESCOM isn't buying, and we end up burning diesel at Rs 12 a unit.
Banning of shared and efficient transport. All of us know that a bike with two people would be more environment friendly than a big car with a driver and a person in it. But Govt. went ahead and started impounding these two wheeler vehicles citing there is no law through which they can operate. Would someone from moon come to enact law? Who would be responsible for so many extra tons of carbon you have put in the atmosphere because of your actions?
Education, all major private schools are charging a fee an upward of 1 Lakh or more. Some schools are charging 3-4 Lakhs per year. There are limited number of schools, and every year they are increasing fees by more than 15 %, sometimes 25-30 %. While the teacher salary has gone up 2-3 times in last 10-12 years, kids school has gone up by 20-30 times. Govt. is a mute spectator, as they are hand and gloves with School Officials. There is no regulations, no control.
This list is endless, all the actions of State Govt. and Govt. agencies are bent at maximizing their monetary gain, minimizing efficiency, increasing traffic on the road, burring more fossil fuels, felling more trees, and reducing greenery. I can go on and on, 10 months initial payment on rent, endless time-period to construct a small flyover, politician-builder nexus to acquire lakebeds, garbage issues, and many more. The garden city has no greenery, and all the garden and lakes have disappeared over years. The last benefits which was the great weather has also succumbed finally, and this year for continuous two months temperature sustained between 35-40 degrees for over 2 months. While national inflation is around 5%, salary hikes are 0-10%, Karnataka Govt. has gone and increased House taxes by up-to 50%, Kids educations are up to the tune of 10-20 %, state oil cess is up, electricity charges have gone up, Milk prices are up substantially( almost 10 %), and you can go on and on. Has the Govt. gone nuts, what is the rationale behind all this? They are recovering money as if there is no tomorrow. It’s a high time that there is action. No wonder, a recent study by IISC has predicted Bengaluru would be unlivable in 5 years. Here are 12 points program to address some of these, and if these points are not followed Bangalore would slowly move in oblivion and to a point of no return:
1. Rationalize Public transport routes and these should be from where most people reside, to where most people work (and vice-versa). There should be direct buses to tech-parks from major residential clusters like Whitefield, Marthahalli, BTM and so on. Have a system online if some 500 people vote for a route, BMTC would be agile enough to start a bus on that route with a week’s time.
2. Rationalize public transport expenses. Expense should be such that it incentivizes use of public transport. Have a benchmark that the expenses are less than x from route A to B, where x is an expense per person when 3 people travel on a diesel car from point A to B. Also introduce
a. Common prepaid smartcards for BMTC and Metro
b. Lower fare for Monthly passes (for airport trips also - say 30% discount for 10 trips)
3. Promote and encourage innovation, and services which are greener, and conserve energy. Don't try to kill and decimate innovation. So if Zipgo has a service to take a person from one point to other anywhere in the city for Rs 29, support them, they are making your job easy, don't feel threatened. Government has no business to be in business, if someone is doing better job than them, then let them do it, don't kill them. Similarly allow bike taxies as these would bring down traffic on the road and would be much greener.
4. Promote sharing. For instance allow shared autos like in Hyderabad. This would bring carbon footprint down and make transport more affordable. Anyone from Hyderabad would agree that shared autos are so much respite in Hyderabad. Similarly promote Programs like Ola share, or UBER vans etc.
5. Construct flyovers in days not in years. You can't dig and wait for months for flyover to complete on the critical Bangalore roads. So if Doddanakundi flyover work is started it should complete within 1 week, or max 2, not more than that else, it impact all the traffic to Airport, Tech parks, Whitefield and everywhere else. Technology has advanced so much, so if you start bidding with timelines of weeks in the contract, there are players in the market who can do it. Note China built 57 Storey Sky scrapper in 19 days. Indian Construction majors are building infrastructure in Gulf countries. If you don’t a will, it wouldn’t happen. I see only 5 people on Doddanakundi Bridge every-day. The value of man hours lost due to this delay is many times what you have been wasting by not letting it complete quickly.
6. For private schools, follow the Kejriwal model in Delhi. Have a state regulator, who would approve the fee hikes. Bring all private schools in the ambit of the regulation and ensure margin shouldn’t be more than 30-40 %. Scrutinize the balance-sheets of major schools, and act accordingly.
7. Take process of registration of flats online. With real estate bill apartments can now start only if all approvals are there, and are registrable, when all approvals are there. Given that being the case registration should just happen online.
8. Clean-up all the state Govt. agencies BWSSB, Bescom, and BBMP. These agencies shouldn't be considered as revenue earning but service providing agencies. Rationalize the deposits and charges levied by these agencies. Don't have higher rates for apartments in comparison to independent houses. In today’s world Apartment are more mean, compact, environment friendly, greener, and affordable. Govt. Tax structure is tilted the other way round though.
a. BESCOM should be tracking and updating total number of hours of power cut every day, week and month (total number of hours = total number of connections *24). This should be put and updated on their website frequently, and Bescom should look to bring the number of hours of outage down over next 3 month.
9. Bring down road taxes. Bring clarity and rationalization of charges for taxes of vehicles from other states. Paying the road taxes of other states vehicles should be made available online.
10. Have 500 Pothole filler squad units across the city. The role of these units would be to fill the potholes across all of the main and link roads of Bangalore. There should also be a fill pothole service on demand, whereby anyone can upload a picture and location of the pothole, and it’s filled up by these units within 24 hours. This would go a long way in improving the road infrastructure of Bangalore.
11. State Govt. should start afforestation campaign. Govt. knows very well that in Bangalore tree are being cut down for years, but hardly it had ever stared an aggressive campaign on afforestation. Govt should go all out in this, and ensure that atleast 1 tree per person is definitely planted. Govt. should provide the free samplings for the same. Since BBMP keeps a count of trees in each part of Bangalore. Each Corporator ‘s performance and incentives should be measured and linked to number of trees that have increased in his/her respective area.
12. Construct 200 skywalks (over passes/aerobridges) across all busy hubs in Bangalore within next 3 months. Lots of people have lost lives crossing main roads, Govt. should start to construct these aerobridges ASAP.