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At a recent BBMP council session, BJP corporator Y N Ashwath (Kempegowda, Ward 1) said, “There are so many stars in the sky. But it’s the moon that is most visible. Just like our Mayor!” Mayor S K Nataraj (elected from Sarakki, Ward 179) has been witness to many such limericks, potshots and several bouts of anger from Bengaluru corporators, during council sessions. He doesn’t have it all that easy.
Two months into his tenure Nataraj has gotten down to brass-tracks to address problems in the city. He regularly conducts inspections and appears to have a positive outlook about Bengaluru’s development.
In an exclusive interview with Citizen Matters, the 55-year-old Mayor speaks about the functioning of the BBMP, whose projects have been transferred to BDA and the all-important road-widening issue.
Here are excerpts from the interview.
It’s been two months since you were elected as Mayor of Bangalore. What, according to you, are the problems in the city?
There are many problems. We need to work hard to fix these problems. But now in the past three to four years, work is going on, even in the newly-added areas. Earlier these areas were not developed at all.
For example, Puttenahalli Road was to be developed by the CMC at Rs 50 lakhs. I, Ashok (state Transport Minister R Ashoka), we stopped that from taking place. We got that road developed by BDA. It was widened. Drains and sanitary lines were laid. Concrete was used. Today there’s not a single pothole on that road. It isn’t damaged.
So what I am trying to say is that if the BBMP or BDA takes up any work, it needs to be done properly, even the contractor should be good, the engineer should also oversee.
Now in Madiwala an underpass is being constructed. Work is going on at a fast pace. Supervision is important. Otherwise work won’t get done and even the contractor won’t do his work.
I inspected the Tagore circle underpass site. Even there the work is progressing well. It will be completed by the year-end. In the next one month we will also make two service roads.
In these two months, how have the various departments in the BBMP been functioning?
You may have attended the council session. The officials (in BBMP) need to take responsibility. In a house, if there is a head of a family, then people will listen. Otherwise, if there is no head of the family, then they won’t bother. Officials come from the PWD (Public Works Department), they do what they want and go. There’s no responsibility. They need to do their work like it’s their own home. The BBMP engineers are good, they know they have to be responsible because they will be held up if work is not done properly. We have the authority to suspend them.
But we can’t suspend PWD officials. We can only give an order to the PWD. So they are not scared. These officials will just pay their parent department and continue working. After a few months, they will come back to BBMP.
We have to work to remove this. All officials need to be held responsible and the elected body will look into this. We should keep a tab on the work that these officials do. There should be someone to check on them.
We should grow because of our good work. Why have I been elected for the third time? The people should believe in you.
Even elected representatives should be responsible. I agree all of them may not be service-minded. But we should all try to do the best for the people.
Few years back, during the rains the whole city used to get flooded. For example, in JP Nagar, Shakambarinagar, 6th phase, 2nd phase. The layouts themselves were formed unscientifically by the BDA. But we fixed all that. And that’s why the people have chosen us.
The BBMP and BDA now have new commissioners. There is some news that BBMP projects are being transferred to BDA. Could you clarify this?
See, there’s quite a lot of money in BDA. At one time, they wanted BDA to be a part of BBMP because they didn’t have money. After sometime, after they acquired land, they got money. Then BDA became richer than the BBMP. BDA didn’t know how to utilise that money. That’s when the Chief Minister decided to transfer some projects to the BDA, like lake development, development of roads which is anyway their responsibility. We’ve given them about ten roads.
I gave you the example in Puttenhalli, where they made a beautiful road, one to Konanakunte and another to Gottigere. They did this when it was with CMC. CMC didn’t have the money and even if they had done it it wouldn’t have been of that standard.
The BDA is going to carry out these projects with their own money. It’s not like the BBMP is giving them money and asking them to do these works. Their engineers and experts will work on this. They are doing the work for the public.
Since the BDA has money, the Chief Minister has given them these projects. There’s nothing wrong in that.
What is your stand on road widening? In council you had announced that this will have to be discussed separately.
We will collect the opinions of people and officials. We will discuss. Otherwise people will protest. Take the case of Chamarajpet. Only tenants have been protesting as far as my knowledge is concerned. The owners haven’t protested. As far as I know. Building owners aren’t against there. One or two may have participated, but not all.
The Hosur Road to Mysore Road road widening project has been deferred, for the time being. But work on making it a signal-free corridor will happen. That will not be stopped. We’ll invite tenders. Only road-widening has been suspended. Signal-free corridor has not been opposed. If this also doesn’t help, then we’ll take further steps. Building owners have said they are willing to give about five to ten feet. They had initially proposed 45 feet, that is wrong. It’s already a 100 feet road. That itself is enough.
Later, depending on the population, if necessary, we will take a decision then.
In some places, they have not looked at developing link roads. After Metro comes, we will have a better picture.
For example, near Banaswadi-Channasandra, there are two main roads that have been made. That is not necessary. There are already two link roads, a third road is not necessary. It’s not necessary to demolish houses in these cases.
Take the case of Bull Temple Road. The surrounding roads near here are not good, they are just 15 to 20 ft wide. In these cases, it becomes necessary.
We have been discussing this, with the Chief Minister, MLAs, ministers.
What are the works you have taken up in your ward, Sarakki?
Many works are going on. We have built a multi-purpose building. We want to build a sports complex in front of that where we’ll have a tennis court, etc. We have also built two community halls. We want to build a grade separator at the Kanakapura Road junction. Stup Consultants has submitted a report on this. The Puttenahalli underpass work will also be done in two to three months. ⊕