Civic, infrastructure issues cast their shadow on elections

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Bangaloreans yearn for better infrastructure as most of the proposed projects remain on paper

Residents of Bangalore, a city groaning under the weight of haphazard horizontal and vertical growth, have been yearning for an administration that will put in place a civic infrastructure that makes the city liveable. They have had little respite from the garbage mess, chaotic traffic, bad roads and non-existent footpaths, besides inadequate drinking water and electricity supply.

The coming elections to the 28 Assembly constituencies in Bangalore is expected to bring the civic and infrastructure inadequacies in the city under a sharp focus.

Poll plank

Political analyst and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Jain University, Sandeep Shastri agrees that the daily needs of an average Bangalorean would emerge as an issue in the polls. But, he adds that unemployment and price rise are also high on the list.

During the last five years, Bangaloreans have only heard of the Rs 18,000-crore infrastructure boost promised by the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa in the 2009-10 budget, followed by news of a proposed investment of Rs. 22,000 crore to implement several infrastructure projects. They included 12 signal-free corridors, widening of roads and remodelling of storm water drains, among others.

Most projects remained only on paper except for the eight-lane signal-free corridor between Okalipuram and Khoday’s Circle, foundation for which was laid as recently as December 2012, and widening of a few roads.

Even the few projects that the BJP administration had taken up are moving at a snail’s pace. A case in point is the gigantic infrastructure works that have been going on for years now on Mysore Road, where the simultaneous work on a multi-level flyover at Nayandahalli junction, Namma Metro and road widening have together made the stretch a motorist’s nightmare.

Governance of the city suffered as the ruling BJP was busy tackling infighting in the party. One such infighting occurred when the mounds of waste lay uncleared after residents of villages near the landfills in Mavallipura and Mandur protested.

But, the BJP seeks to reject these allegations and refers to the commissioning of the Cauvery Stage IV Phase II, which brought drinking water to several outlying areas of the city, as example of pro-active administration. S. Prakash, the party’s media in-charge said the administration could take credit for establishing a “robust BMTC network and hastening the pace of work on Metro project.” On the other hand, the Janata Dal (Secular), which had bagged only the Chamarajpet segment in the 2008 polls, is likely to harp on the poor civic facilities in the newer areas added to the city during H.D. Kumaraswamy’s tenure as Chief Minister.

Voter apathy

With voter turnout in Bangalore remaining abysmal during the last couple of decades, many organisations are concerned about whether or not the average middle-class Bangalorean would turn up at the polling booth on May 5.

Several citizens’ collectives like Bangalore Political Action Committee (B-PAC) have launched campaigns to mobilise people to enrol themselves as voters, even as the Election Commission has been holding voter awareness programmes.

He is a Software Engineer from Moodbidri currently living in Kuwait. He likes to travel and post interesting things about technology. He is the designer of Kannadigaworld.com. You may follow him on FB at fb.com/alanpaladka

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