With due respect to Karnataka legislators, the ‘findings’ of the The Joint House Committee (JHC) about the Bengaluru International Airport can be termed irresponsible at the least and retrograde.
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The JHC report maligns famous business leaders and civil servants. These people don’t need to prove their credentials or expertise in managing complex projects or assignments in their long careers. The committee members have truly maligned Narayana Murthy, who had offered his services for free. The officers who were part of the original team are Karnataka’s best.
The JHC will have a lot to explain if they are grilled by an independent body about their accusations especially about the design of the airport. It appears the report is based on hearsay, personal bias and conjecture without backing them with sufficient research.
While the point about structures depicting the culture and glory of Karnataka is pertinent, extending it to “safeguarding the interest of the state’ – sounds like a political speech. Today, in the market era, safeguarding the interest of the customer is most important and if that is taken care of, everything else will fall into its place. And, in political parlance, ‘safeguarding the interests of the state’ means safeguarding the interests of politicians.
And wanting the BIA to be headed by an “Indian who can understand local aspirations and requirements” is simply retrograde. Today, it does not matter who heads an organisation, whether Indian or an expat as long the job gets done.
Rajeev Chandrashekar’s arguments about competition and monopoly appear a little far fetched. Can’t think of many cities which have multiple airports that compete with each other. With India modernising or opening airports only now competition is still a far cry. Sure, his views about the PPP model, serving mainly the private party is well made.
And those who are hoping for the reopening of the HAL Airport soon are simply ambitious. It could be possible perhaps after five years when the traffic builds up.
Bangalore a milch cow
When ABIDE came up two years ago Bangaloreans thought there was hope for the city. Those, particularly Rajeev Chandrashekar, were certain of not committing the same mistakes which its earlier avatar BATF did before it became irrelevant. But now, it appears that when the agenda of the state’s political leaders is to squeeze the maximum out of the city while they are in power, no city-focused body has a chance. There’s too much at stake for them to let go of the city which is a cash cow.
The only solution for global cities such as Bangalore and Mumbai is to convert them into union territories with independent powers. Here the states will have to pay to the city government if they have government offices there. Or they are free to move out to smaller towns.
To the dismay of Bangaloreans, political leadership in Karnataka has been blatantly self-serving.
Whatever Bangalore is today is despite the calibre of the state leadership. It has a logic and momentum of its own. The city will thrive. ⊕