September 14, 2005

Here and now, Mr CM

Problems & solutions are right here

Make Short-Term, Time-Bound Plans Industry captains offer two-pronged solution to the Karnataka government to prop up Bangalore’s crumbling infrastructure: Address the present needs on a war-footing, then strategise long-term measures.
By Mini Joseph Tejaswi/TNN

Bangalore: More than the big picture, look at the immediate, present needs. That’s the brief message — if terse, somewhat — the city industry mandarins turfed out to the powers-that-be. Upset that infrastructure problems have still not been addressed with Bangalore’s signature event closing in, the industry captains have made “immediate needs’’ the operative word in their charter of demands. Long-term projects like airport and Metro Rail are fine. But Bangalore’s redemption from traffic travails lies in forking out short-term and time-bound measures. In short, make Bangalore liveable. The industry behemoths have trotted out suggestions in good measure. The suggestions are as simple as they’re practicable: fill potholes, relay worn-out roads, clean up drains, stop water logging, draw up a “doable’’ comprehensive traffic management plan and push civic bodies to work in unison. According to them, the government has come short on drawing out projects, timebound execution, allocation of resources and process streamlining. Anant Koppar, president of Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC), says the government and civic bodies are looking at bigger solutions to solve infrastructure problems instead of ensuring that the available infrastructure such as power, water and roads is effectively utilised and maintained. Bangalore’s residents, he says, are tired of the pass-the-buck attitude of civic bodies. He gives an example: “BWSSB or KPTC digs up roads. When someone questions them, they start blaming other civic arms for ruining the road. This can be put an end to only by bringing these bodies under a single umbrella.’’ He says the government should look at improving the infrastructure facilities at the existing airport, and not merely talk of the new airport that will take close to another three years to become operational. The existing airport, he notes, still has just one X-ray machine at its international terminal to handle the huge traffic volume that the airport now sees. Is the industry willing to chip in with resources? Some are, provided the government can build “credibility’’ for itself and ensure the money is spent properly. Some are willing to contribute in terms of mindshare, ideas, project engineering and execution plans. But Koppar says: “Building and maintenance of infrastructure, ultimately, is the state’s responsibility. We are already creating immense economic value for city, enhancing the spending power of Bangaloreans and contributing to the exchequer.’’ During 2004-05, IT and ITeS employees were paid a salary of Rs 10,000 crore, of which 30 per cent has gone into the state coffers.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, CMD, Biocon: Apoliticise the system. Our system of electing mayor is a joke. Why can’t we get somebody like Infosys chief mentor Narayana Murthy to be the mayor of Bangalore?
Bob Hoekstra, CEO, Philips Software: There’s none in the government who can stand up and do something concrete to improve the city. Babus and netas lack passion and love for the city. Development is the government’s business.

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