Archive for April, 2006

Flats to Replace Slums

Bangalore is home to around 450 slums. Karnataka Housing Minister D.T. Jayakumar has floated a proposal to replace all existing slums with flats for the slum-dwellers. According to a news report in The Hindu today, the Minister announced that the project will be a joint venture between civic agencies and private land developers.

While half the land will be used to house slum dwellers who were on the 2004 electoral rolls, the other half of the property will be given to the private land developers for commercial development.

Those who came after the cut-off date would have to move to rehabilitation centres. They would be given alternative housing after all the slums were developed. The project would be completed by 2015, he said.

Once this project is completed, there is a proposal to not allow huts to come up anywhere in the city.

On the face of it, this seems like a great idea. The flats and their inhabitants will have all the basic utilities such as water supply, sewage, electricity etc., not to mention that the slum-dwellers will actually have a roof over their heads. I do hope that things go as planned.

This situation, however, rife with opportunities for corruption. Indian electoral rolls are notorious for not having the names of residents, having names twice or thirce, having dead peoples’ names, etc., plus because there is no system for identifying people (i.e., most people don’t have IDs) how are the officials going to identify the people that are entitled to these flats?

Rajkumar Films?

It appears that a historical film – Bharathesha Vaibava – is being planned by Dr. Rajkumar’s sons as a tribute to him. All 3 of them – Raghavendra, Shivrajkumar & Puneet will be part of the project. A participatory approach in terms of consulting other senior directors of the industry is also on the anvil.

While this news is heartening to fans of the late actor and to the Kannada film industry as a whole, it would be even better, in my opinion, if a separate entity is created by the family to produce films that would promote the language, culture and heritage of Kannada. Especially, since these issues were close to the late thespian’s heart.
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A cleaner, greener Bangalore in the air

In my opinion, one of the best ever news developments – one that will have far-reaching changes in improving the quality of air in Bangalore & dramatically too, has now been announced by CM Kumaaraswamy.

To fight the increasing vehicular pollution in Bangalore, the government has decided to operate BMTC buses on CNG (compressed natural gas) on the lines of Delhi. The conversion of fuel from diesel to CNG would be taken up in a phased manner, Chief Minister H D Kumaaraswamy said on Saturday. In the first phase, about 1,500 BMTC buses would shift to CNG, he said

This cannot be a more propitious move by the CM for 2 reasons that come to mind immediately:

a) None other than the Supreme Court of India had to step in when air pollution spiralled rapidly out of control in Delhi. Yet, the accomplishment, when it happened, proved that such reversals can be effected.
b) This move, if it can be accomplished over a time frame, will set a trend for other states ( & capital cities ) to follow. In essence, he can go down in history as the first CM to pull this off & his government can claim full credit.
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The parking muddle

free_parking_out.jpg

I was pretty amazed when, during a visit to Bangalore, I saw this signboard : Free Parking ! It came as a shock to me that the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike would let go of this revenue stream so magnanimously! What I did not notice properly ( anything new in this? Ed!) was that this scheme was announced, of all the days, on April 1, 2005!
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Cantonment Railway Station

It’s a revelation, and distressing as well, to read that the City Railway station is in bit of a mess. I haven’t been there since a long time but I can almost visualize its state, reading the detailed report. Yet, just a while back, I recalled reading plans announced by the Railway guys to give it a complete makeover & metamorphosis. I guess all that was just on paper? Anyway.

Its sibling – the Cantonment Railway Station – has a chequered history as well inspite of being, unlike Big Brother, only a transit station ( at least today ). Perhaps, that accounts for its better preserved state? Here’s what its fa├žade looks like.

cantt_facade.jpg
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Metro will finally be a reality

I felt really happy when I saw the news on “Mobile TV” on my way back home in the bumper-to-bumper traffic yesterday.

Yup… cabinet nod has finally come through for the metro railway project.

Quote:

The main objective of the project is to provide reliable, safe, energy-efficient, comfortable, affordable, and non-polluting rail based mass transit system for Bangalore.

Now, how long will the execution phase be???

Premier Book Shop – an update

Reading the developments about Premier Book Shop (and writing about it here) I knew I had to visit it during my last trip to Bangalore.

It’s always good to see Mr. Shanbhag. His shy smile and gentle demeanour puts one at ease. None of that grim & efficient looks that one gets at other ‘modern’ and ‘sophisticated’ bookshops. The place is as one can always picture it in the mind’s eye: chaotic at first sight but a regular visitor knows the pattern of its layout & organization!

My concern, first, and my support, next, to him were both taken with stoicism & philosophically.
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Kannada Cartoons

This does not concern Bangalore as such, but surely concerns Kannada. I do not know to read, write or speak Kannada. But I am sure this effort , by whoever it is, is a laudable one. Can someone tell me if this is maintained by a Bangalore based author?

kannadacartoonsblog.jpg
KannadaCartoons

I love reading C&H, Dilbert and Garfield. It is a part of my daily dose. And when it is being delivered in your local lingo, it is “Sakkath Majaa, Magaa!” :-)

The BMIC, hurdles and shoddy Governance

The BMIC, or Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project was conceived around the mid/late 90’s and work started in the late ’90s. It intended to cut travel times between the two cities from 3-4 hours to about 2 hours(with 1 1/2 hr on the highway). At conception it was intended to house 5 townships along the highway/corridor as well – to decongest the city.

Among the big initial concerns were:

1. The highway cutting across highly arable land – and requiring lots of it
2. The cost of the project
3. The concern over the need for another expensive project(it came on the back of failed Enron), when doubling railway tracks, and the existing highway was undergoing upgradation(now completed).
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Russel Market

I think I’m an authority on this subject having lived within a stone’s throw from it. Hmmmm, that ‘stone’s-throw’ bit is a little of an exageration but say, is anyone contesting? :)

Actually, the subject in question is a building and a very popular one, at that. Its been around since 1927 and continues to attract people by the hundreds. Particularly, during the weekends.

I’m talking about Russell Market. During my visits to Bangalore, I still frequent this market especially during the weekends! It holds a lot of memories for me and I’m certain for many, a Sunday would not be the same without visiting this market.
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