MP Tejasvi Surya helps fix Bannerghatta Road, but is it his job?

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MP Tejasvi Surya with officials at Bannerghatta Road. Pic: Twitter

A few days ago, Tejasvi Surya, MP for Bangalore South, created news when he worked with various stakeholders – BBMP, BWSSB, BMRCL etc – to help clear the mess that was Bannerghatta Road. He coordinated a joint meeting with these departments and relatively eased life for thousands of commuters who use this road. A lot of people were impressed that an MP got down into the grit of solving the basic infrastructure problems that plague our city.

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But that’s just the point here. Dealing with a bad road isn’t his job as an MP! Just so we are clear, this isn’t a take on Tejasvi Surya. This is a take on why the system isn’t working the way it is designed to, and what our options are to ensure it does.

We spend so much money on elections so that there is a hierarchy to power and it stays decentralised. But clearly, this isn’t working.

As the Bannerghatta Road problem shows, there is no cohesive plan for the city, much less coordination between the various stakeholders who administer our infrastructure needs.

Take any infrastructure project, there are multiple stakeholders. If the BWSSB has a project to lay new pipelines, the BBMP – which is the custodian of the roads to be dug up for this work – will have no clue about it. This leaves a mess which neither of the departments have the bandwidth or resources to clean up. We have too many parastatal service agencies (BWSSB, BMRCL, BMTC etc) and planning/sanctioning authorities (BDA, BMRDA, BIAPA, BMICAPA) in our city, but no plan!

To address this very problem,  the Siddaramaiah government, under pressure from the High Court of Karnataka, created a 30-member Bangalore Metropolitan Planning Committee in 2014. Under the 74th amendment of the Constitution of India, articles 243ZD and 243ZE mandate setting up a ‘District Planning Committee’ in each District, and a ‘Metropolitan Planning Committee’ in every metropolitan area.

The Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC), by law, is mandated “…to  prepare a draft development plan for  the  Metropolitan area as a whole”.  The committee was, therefore, meant to represent various departments so their power to take decisions in silos was reduced and there was a harmony to the process of planning.

To simply all this official jargon – the MPC would have to come up with a five-year plan for the city. It would address zoning, governance, transport etc and ensure the stakeholders were all in the know.

For example, BWSSB and BBMP officials would have to talk to each other before digging up the road in front of your house, rather than leaving it in a mess without either one being held accountable. There would be no more unplanned change of land use in the city, so you wouldn’t wake up to a sanctioned pub next to your house out of the blue. It would mean that BESCOM’s ambitious project of taking our cables underground wouldn’t disrupt traffic because the police were clueless till the work began.

So there is no question that Bengaluru needs an effective MPC – the operative word being ‘effective’.

Because an MPC does exist on paper. They have met twice – in June 2016 and November 2016. And that’s where matters halted. According to the rules made by the state government, the MPC is meant to meet every three months. They haven’t. According to the law, the city planning is under their jurisdiction. That hasn’t happened, or a group of citizens wouldn’t have had to go to court questioning the BDA’s effort of creating a revised master plan.

Somebody once explained governance to me as a stage where “…an MP behaves like and MLA, an MLA behaves like a corporator, and a corporator behaves like a garbage contractor”. When I had interviewed Krishna Byre Gowda just before the assembly elections in 2018, he candidly admitted that the reason he did a corporator’s job was because people expected it. “I would lose votes if I didn’t do it,” he had said.

The overlapping of expectations from our elected members without understanding their job descriptions, is what causes ‘interference’ which in turn makes local governance ineffective. Our local governance needs to be better than the best, because in no other space do the government and citizens interact more closely.

While Tejasvi Surya’s intervention in the Bannerghatta Road problem may have driven the system to solve the problem more speedily, we need a mechanism to ensure this happens regularly without it being driven by individuals. What we need is an MPC, so the MPs are free to do their job creating national legislation.


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About Manasi Paresh Kumar 85 Articles
Manasi Paresh Kumar is Engagement Editor for Bengaluru Citizen Matters.

16 Comments

  1. Good work by Tejasvi. Keep it up. Ultimately some one has to do the job, if those who are super to do it are not doing it.

  2. Even Mr Tharoor said in a recent video that constituents make outlandish demands of their elected mps and the mps are expected to never say no to their requests… indicating that acceding to and fulfilling demands like getting a home posting for a son who is posted in a farflung govt job… or getting a loan waIver… are examples of gr8 corruption…if these are what a person like tharoor does and gets re-elected… what may be in store for Tejasvi Surya … who is so eager to do the right thing and do it well… i feel he
    Is too good for the mess that is indian politics…And the same is true about our PM… too good for our messy politics and our even worse populace…:-( 🙁

  3. Are you serious?
    Instead of patting the MP on his back for his initiative, your correspondent found a way to lecture him/us on the duties of politicians at different levels? This can only come from a hierarchy-conscience and below-my-dignity thinking person, which is the bane of our society

    • The point of effective hierarchy of governance is correct. Where are the Bangalore Planning/Municipal agencies in this mess? Should an MP be in charge of fixing roads? The effectiveness of governance comes down to a hierarchy of roles and responsibilities. The lack of co-ordination should be pulled up at a state/city level for the city’s infrastructure to be effective. Ad-hoc interventions by MPs can, as now, only bring an issue to the front. Long term solutions require effective local planning and execution.

  4. Next all MP / MLA elections the age group of candidates should be less than 35 years then only we can see full involment and speedy action in providing good governance.

    • I am from Karanataka , I am bhakt, I Supported him but this guy is only social media star, AnathKumar was 100 times better than this arrogant Tejaswi Surya , hope his wife gets ticket next election otherwise he will lose for sure from BJP strong hold South Bangalore (unfortunately we don’t vote for anyone other than BJP) even Donkey with BJP tag will win from South Bangalore , but he is wrong choice

      • Hmm.. Another stooge of ananth Kumar’s wife. How much money does she give you to post this morning sense. Have some self respect. Tejasvi will win again and with bigger margin

  5. It is great to see the MP himself taking the initiative and helping to get things done faster. He’s young and dynamic and much needed in Bangalore today.

    But honestly, the different departments should get their act together like they used to earlier – during SM Krishna’s time and do things much faster. I stay very close to Bannerghatta road so I know how it feels.

  6. Rule of the book says elected reps are meant to script and amend laws in legislatures When the establishment/administratipn fails to deliver, there is nothing wrong in mlas/mps stepping in. Theyshould be really commended for their positive actions notwithstanding the fact that these persons derive collateral advantage in future elections.which they deserve.
    As regards the blame game among city utilities, it is worthwhile looking at Singapore where all facilities come under one umbrella – public utility board

    • I disagree with your views. He is the MP from Bangalore south constituency and he is taking care of it. While it is his duty, I am grateful he is sticking to the welfare of the people who elected him… Expect Bangalore south to become the role model for the country…

  7. This is very correct and happens when elected representatives responsible for doing the job are not sincerely doing their duties.
    Corporators in this area are one of the richest. Do we need such corporators.
    Party with difference could not give ticket to a person who will do the job and talk and listen to people’s problems.
    Parallely if we look @ party organisation currently ruling we thought that one/two person @ top will be able to wield power and get things done for people. But look @ corporators and mla’s ….. they are all supremely rich and are least bothered.
    We all see one person at the top and elect our representatives but voter fatigue is setting in and if things are not straightened in party and work of elected representatives then next time NOTA for sure.

  8. Whoever wrote headline for this article should be shame on yourself to put a question mark at the end of statement.
    You people have problem when a MP/MLA dont work & again you have problem even if that guy work.
    Instead of spreading your negative propaganda why don’t you put the same news in a +ve way.
    Yes we do have issues in hierarchy, but question those people who are enjoying in their resorts in public money.
    Try putting news in a +ve manner please

  9. Good for Tejasvi Good for Bluru..There is nothing which prevents an MP to stay away from day to day pains of his well wishers 🙂

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