As much as Rs, 8344 crore was announced for Bengaluru’s development in the latest state Budget presented by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on March 5. Here’s the catch: It is a carry-over of the previous year’s Budget – with an outlay of Rs 8015 crore for Bengaluru –presented by then Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy. What’s more, it bears a new name. The former’s grants came under the `Chief Minister’s Nava Bengaluru Kriya Scheme’ while Yediyurappa’s allocations for Bengaluru comes under the `Chief Minister’s Nava Nagarottana Scheme’.
There are more similarities: From solid waste management to transport, mobility, water supply, sewage and lake rejuvenation, the programmes are the same. There is a point of order as well: Budgets have become top-down affairs with little or no say for the primary stakeholders – the citizens.
On the ground, that translates to the State government imposing long-term mega projects that show no signs of completion, while ward-level issues and aspirations find no place or allocation.
Srinivas Alavalli of Citizens for Bengaluru sums up this disconnect: “There is certainly some old wine in the new bottle and it will continue to be so as long as budgets are made in Vidhana Soudha instead of ward committees and BBMP council. People are still not the main stakeholders in the process of Budget-preparation. City budgets must be made by city sarkaara and that means BBMP must be empowered to truly run the city with funds and functions.”
This basic flaw, he hopes, could be rectified by the promise of a new legislation which was announced in the same Budget. “Will the mysterious Bengaluru legislation (new Municipal Corporation Act) do this? We have to wait and see,” he says.
Bengaluru in 2019 Budget: Nava Bengaluru Kriya Yojane
Bengaluru in 2020 Budget: Nava Nagarotthana Yojane
Rs.50 crore for a comprehensive mobility scheme; grant to increase BMTC buses; development of at least 50 KM pedestrian road.
Rs.1,000 crore for six elevated corridors.
Sub-urban rail services at a cost of Rs.23,093 crore; Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), Bengaluru Rail Infrastructure Development Entity (B-RIDE) under State and Central Government partnership.
Feasibility study for Multi-Modal Transport Hub at Hebbal, Byappannahalli, K.R.Puram, Kadugodi, Challaghatta and Peenya area.
Development of infrastructure for Inter-Modal Integration design in Bengaluru Metro, Rail and TTMC strategically located at Yeshwantapur, Banashankari, Vijayanagar, Peenya etc.
Rs.16,579 crore for Metro line from Central Silk Board (CSB) junction to the Outer Ring Road-Airport via K.R.Puram, Hebbal.
Extension of the western end of Kengeri Metro Network and construction of a station at Challaghatta.
A new underpass at Goragunttepalya costing Rs.195 crore. Additional loop construction on the existing Hebbal and K.R.Puram Flyovers.
Construction of Peripheral Ring Road costing Rs.17,200 crore.
Special Purpose Vehicle to be formed for implementation of Suburban Rail Project.
2390 new buses including 890 electric buses to be added to the fleet of Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation.
Total 12.8 km of metro line on Mysore road up to Kengeri and on Kanakapura road up to Anjanapura cross.
DPR for construction of a 44 km length Metro line through public-private partnership from Hebbala junction to J P Nagar.
Construction of 56 km long Outer Ring Road to Airport Metro line from Central Silk Board junction to Bengaluru International Airport costing Rs.14,500 crore.
Increasing transport capacity in Hebbala, Silk Board and K.R.Puram junctions and a grant of Rs.500 crore for development of roads having traffic congestion through Karnataka Road Development Authority.
Rs 500 crore for the suburban rail network.
Introducing electric bike taxis as a last-mile connectivity solution and 12 new Bus Priority Lanes.
Completion of metro lines of a total length of 12.8 km on Mysore road upto Kengeri and on Kanakapura road upto Anjanapura cross/road under the Namma Metro Project.
Road cross over facility for pedestrians other than metro commuters through 24 metro stations.
Implementation of ‘Underground Vehicle Parking’ project in congested area of the city with private partnership.
Converting 5 lakh road lights into LED.
Conversion of Commercial Street and Brigade Road into pedestrian roads.
Enacting “Parking Rules and Implementation Policy” and smart parking system to park 10,000 vehicles on 87 roads.
Formulation of a separate Municipal Corporation Act specific to the city.
Rs.1,000 crore for restoration of deteriorated roads of 110 villages merged in the city in the next two years.
Establishing a 400 metric tonne capacity solid waste processing unit through KPCAL under public-private partnership.
Rs.999 crore for Solid Waste Management.
Rs.210 crore for a Waste to Energy plant in Bidadi.
Scheme for flow water into Arkavati and Dakshina Pinakini rivers using the water resources available in Bengaluru; in BMRD area programme to harvest rainwater; protection and rejuvenation of all ponds and water bodies coming under the catchment areas; re-use of wastewater after purifying. Availability of 1400 MLD of additional water by this scheme; A grant of Rs.50 crore for this scheme.
Rs.500 crore in 2019-20 for the work of V Stage Cauvery Water Supply Scheme estimated at cost of Rs.5,550 crore with the help of JICA.
Work to prevent 914 entry points wherein sewerage is mixing with stormwater drain at a cost of Rs.76.55 crore.
Rs 9 crore for the establishment of 17 Continuous Water Quality Monitoring Stations at polluted lakes, including Bellandur, Agara tank and Varthur lakes.
Rs.200 crore to fill the missing gaps in the major stormwater drain network of the city.
Rs.100 crore to be added to the existing fund for lake rejuvenation under the Chief Minister’s Nave Nagarottana scheme.
Rs.417 crore for comprehensive development of lakes of the city under “Shubhra Bengaluru” and “Mukyamanthrigala Navanagarothana” scheme.
Completion of rejuvenation of T.G. Halli Water Resources by end of September 2021.
Increasing wastewater treatment capacity of Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board to 1587 million litres by end of 2020-21. A grant of Rs.1000 crore for rejuvenation and modernization of old sewerage treatment plants.
Completion of the 5th phase of Cauvery Water Supply Scheme at an expenditure of Rs.5,550 crore by the end of 2023.
Source: Govt of Karnataka Budgets 2019-20, 2020-21
V Ravichander, urban affairs expert, agrees that the new Municipal Corporation Act could be a game changer as reforms are paramount. He, however, remains cynical about the other announcements.
“Citizens want outcomes and budgets provide money estimates and so there is a disconnect in the process. And as there is not enough granularity and clarity, it becomes impossible to decipher how and where the money is spent. And so we are in a situation where we hear that hundreds and thousands of crores are being spent but garbage, traffic, roads and health remain serious problems,” he said.
Sapna Karim and Srikanth Viswanathan, senior experts at the Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, are frustrated with the ‘Déjà vu’ they experience when they see Budget after Budget repeatedly asking for the same things.
“Every year we see the same things. We have a plan to tackle lakes, desilting, preventing flooding, filling gaps on stormwater drains, traffic and so on. And while we are doing this exercise year after year, astonishingly, we are still not being able to fix the problems. Citizens have a right to be angry if they cannot see measurable outcomes that improve their quality of life with the money being spent in their name, especially, when it is not done in a fixed, time-bound manner,” rued Sapna.
Little wonder that city budgets remain paper tigers and unrealised wishlists of citizens, the experts say, given that the governance structures and institutional mechanisms are weak.
The implementation of the Karnataka Municipalities Accounting and Budgeting Rules (KMABR), 2006, brought in fiscal discipline in Karnataka’s municipalities, as it mandated detailed disclosures in the form of city management reports and annual performance reports, besides the time-bound auditing and clearing of accounts by independent chartered accountants. But the same rules did not cover the agencies of Bengaluru, points out Viswanathan.
“These disclosures help explain the performance of these agencies in the previous year and for setting targets for the next. If Mysore and Tumakuru are doing it, why can’t Bengaluru do the same? Why can’t tax-paying citizens track the spending of the government by looking up the audited annual or quarterly accounts of Bengaluru’s agencies on their website in the same way you can see detailed audited reports for private companies like Infosys or WIPRO?” he asked.