What Bengaluru can do with 1800 crores

To

Sri Siddaramaiah
Hon’ble Chief Minister
Govt. of Karnataka
Vidhana Soudha
Dr. Ambedkar Veedhi
Bengaluru – 560001

Dear Sir,

Subject: 

(1) Our objections to the steel fly-over from Chalukya circle to Hebbal junction and

(2) Our suggestions on the alternative use of Rs. 1,800 crore for de-congesting traffic and for human development and social infrastructure for Bengaluru

Greetings from CIVIC Bangalore! We have been working since 24 years on urban governance and the Rights to Food, Health, Education, Livelihood and Social Security of the urban poor. Whenever we propose that money be set aside for human development measures, which are the true development indicators, and the goals to be achieved under the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which we have committed to achieve by 2030, we are told by officials that there is no money in the government for these.  

But, we are shocked that the government has Rs.1,800 crore for building a steel fly-over for a stretch of just 7 kms of the more than 40 kms to the airport to benefit just 30,000 private cars. We wish to question whether any cost-benefit analysis of this steel fly-over in relation to the overall development of the city has been done, and if so, why are the findings not in public domain? 

Cannot something more worthwhile be done with Rs 1,800 crore?

(1)  De-congesting the entire city

Instead of just this 7 KM stretch, the entire city can be de-congested with the same amount of money by the following measures:

– Solving garbage as well as traffic problem simultaneously

– The way to kill two birds with one stone with the Rs. 1,800 crore, i.e., solve the traffic congestion problem as well as the garbage problem would be to

(1) invest in an additional 6,000 buses to take another 35 lakh population at least;

(2) locate huge bio-methanation plants at all the 12 bus depots within Bengaluru and transfer all the wet garbage (or as much as is required) to them. The bio-gas produced can be used to run small vehicles as feeder services, at frequency of  every ten minutes or so) from all residential localities to the nearest bus stop on arterial roads. This is already being done in Pune. Frequent, reliable and regular buses (every 5 to 10 minutes) should run on the arterial roads or trunk routes to all the other major bus stands around the city and not just to city market, Majestic and Shivajinagar. From there, bio-gas-driven feeder vehicles should provide last-mile connectivity to individual destinations. Where the roads are wide enough, BRTS corridors can be built. The lack of last-mile connectivity to inner areas and irregular frequency of buses is making people cling to their private vehicles. The feeder service can be even run free of cost as it will help to save Rs. 400 crore being spent every year by BBMP to transport garbage.

Once at least 75% population moves in the 12,000 BMTC buses, there will be no traffic congestion and investments in fly-overs, elevated corridors, etc., for private vehicles, will become unnecessary.  People will shift to public transport if it is regular and reliable and provides last-mile connectivity.

(2)  Investing in Human Development and Social Infrastructure

The other alternative we are suggesting is that this Rs. 1,800 crore be rather spent on true development of the city, on worthwhile human development projects, which fetch 700% returns, or on decent living or livelihood protection for the urban poor which will lead to an inclusive and sustainable city:

Bonds of Rs. 10,000 for vulnerable children to complete schooling: 18 lakh vulnerable children across the state (in addition to the Bhagyalakshi scheme beneficiaries) could have been incentivised to complete 12 years of schooling by giving them a bond of Rs. 10,000 in their names, which would mature to Rs. one lakh when they turn 18 years, enabling the achievement of several social and human development goals.

Full day-care centres for 0-6 year-old children: 1,800 day-care centres (9 per ward) could have been set up in Bengaluru, at a cost of Rs. 1 crore per centre (for purchasing land and for construction),  for the care of 0 to 6 year-old poor children in Bengaluru, who are currently languishing in slums and construction sites, malnourished and uncared for, while their mothers are forced to work for their living;

200 Primary Health Centres: 200 (one per ward) fully-equipped 24/7 Primary Health Centres with free medicines could have been set up in Bengaluru at a cost of Rs. 9 crore each to cater to the health needs of the urban poor, who are currently forced to go to private clinics and spend out of their pocket for health care.

200 fully-equipped schools: 200 (one per ward) fully-equipped state-of-the art schools from 1 Std. to 10th Std. could have been set up at a cost of Rs. 9 crore each and enabled urban poor children to get free, quality education and prevented them from spending money on private schools.

Housing for migrant workers: 18,000 flats (about 90 per ward) could have been built in Bengaluru to house 18,000 urban poor migrant worker households in a decent way (about one lakh population) at a cost of Rs. 10 lakh per flat contributing to a hygienic city.  They are currently living in deplorable conditions in tin-sheds without drinking water and toilets·        

Legitimised vending slots for vendors: 18,000 livelihoods of vendors could have been legitimised and improved by creating vending spots of 10×10 sq ft at natural markets by acquiring / purchasing  land at the average rate of Rs. 10,000 per sq.ft. and preventing the vendors from being fleeced by the police and municipal officials;

Infrastructure for garbage collection and storage: The entire garbage collection infrastructure of Bengaluru could have been over-hauled to make Bengaluru a clean and green city again at a cost of Rs. 9 crore for each of the almost 200 wards of Bengaluru.  Lidded containers in trolleys for PKs for street-sweeping and lidded containers in autos for collecting waste door-to-door, in different streams for dry and wet waste could have been provided;  three colour-coded hygienic bins, with bottoms and lids, could have been placed at markets and at every collection point for garbage for secondary storage of waste as required under MoEF Rules;  land could have been purchased/acquired for local bio-methanation of wet waste, for setting up dry-waste collection centres and for mechanising transfer of garbage from secondary storage bin to compactors, avoiding dumping of garbage on the ground, manual handling, exposure of garbage to the public and the environment, and creating health hazard spots.

(3)  Investing in other cities to reduce migration to Bengaluru

One more alternative would be to invest this Rs. 1,800 crore in at least five (5) other municipal corporations of Karnataka by giving them Rs. 360 crore each (5 x 360 = Rs. 1,800 crore) for their development so that a lot of foreign and local investment can be diverted to these cities and people will find employment there and migration to Bengaluru will be reduced, making it unnecessary to build fly-overs and elevated corridors in Bengaluru. This will help the overall development of the state and also make Bengaluru a sustainable city which lives at the limits of its carrying capacity for water, roads, and other resources.

We hope you will consider these better options for the use of Rs. 1,800 crore and give up the proposal to build the steel fly-over.

The opinions expressed here are author’s own. Citizen Matters as a news analysis website, makes an attempt to present all sides of the issue, but does not endorse or reject them.

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About Kathyayini Chamaraj 19 Articles

Kathyayini Chamaraj is the Executive Trustee of CIVIC, Bangalore.