Saturday, May 17, 2008

Broken processes, blocked pipes - Citizen Matters, Bangalore: 14 May 2008

Citizen Matters, Bangalore: Broken processes, blocked pipes - 14 May 2008: "Warning to Developers: The land owners /developers are hereby warned not to form unauthorised layouts in the Bangalore Metropolitan Area and cheat the public. Formation of unauthorised layouts without approval by BDA will attract penalty as well as imprisonment on conviction under the KTCP Act 1961. Further, BDA is constrained to acquire the lands where such unauthorised layouts are formed.'

(This is a warning displayed on the Bangalore Development Authority website.)

Despite such notices, despite demolition drives, despite education levels of consumers, unauthorised layouts are passe in Bangalore. Layouts that spin money out of the oldest dream of owning a house, they've complicated and burdened the development puzzle that is Bruhath Bengaluru today. These layouts further twist questions of if water, when water and why no water in areas south-east of the city.

Areas like Sarjapur road and Haralur road have recently come into the BBMP's jurisdiction. Amenity providing agencies including the BBMP, are yet to survey the ground and report on the existence of layouts, apartment complexes and sites that are due for regularisation under the Sakrama legislation, in these areas. They then plan to formulate policies on these properties. Planning for provision of basic facilities like water can come only after this.

According to a highly placed official at the BBMP who asked not to be named, "The BBMP has issued oral instructions to staff in the Bommanahalli zone to check if there are more legal or illegal constructions in the Sarjapur road, Haralur road belt." Before making provisions for amenities, "We have to check this legality aspect. How many of these layouts were sanctioned by the CMC? How many were not? The roads are built, the buildings have come up, but only now has the BBMP taken over."

The source explains that "Even if the layouts are found to be built within legal sanctions, the residents have to pay betterment charges again to the new regulatory authority - the BBMP." He clarifies that this does not assure them of facilities. Betterment charges apart, the BBMP is yet to frame a policy regarding these new areas where so many high rise buildings already exist, he says.

BDA notification and illegal layouts

Though the BDA's revised Master Plan 2015 "envisages a compact, balanced and equitable, urban growth for the city", ground reality seems far different. To allow "... such growth, the Master plan 2015 uses the regulatory mechanism by land use zoning and land use map for development regulation, management and enforcement." Which means that certain areas are marked out for certain purposes only.

Statutory mechanisms are in place to allow the BDA to take over land for its development projects like layouts, parks, shopping complexes, etc. The BDA is authorised to ‘notify' the original owners of a piece of land through the official gazette, that it wishes to acquire the land for development purposes. After a short period provided to raise objections, the BDA deposits a certain amount in the name of the owner and proceeds with development works or at least plans for it. In the meantime, the original owner, aware or unaware of the ‘notification', sells the land to a third party, who buys it for his own use. The third or fourth or fifth party in possession of the land is usually the one who is bestowed with the label ‘illegal occupant'.

Multiple sanctioning authorities and development chaos

The existence of the erstwhile City Municipal Corporations (CMCs) and TMC (Town Municipal Corporation) facilitated the irregular, unmapped development in many areas in Bangalore. Working on shoestring budgets compared to the then Bangalore City Corporation, the CMCs collected property taxes but shrugged off development works like drainage facilities, roads, water and other basic amenities. Plans approved by the CMC were not those that were executed.

Also, a CMC approved plan could only include a ground-plus-three construction. Violations aplenty were discovered or acknowledged before the Sakrama legislation.

In fact, the Sakrama legislation opened up a Pandora's Box of illegal land use. It acknowledged unauthorised layouts in a big way, even if that was the unintended purpose of the legislation. The questions that then raised their heads have had their own effects on the water access patterns in newly acknowledged BBMP areas. (snip)"

Gastroenteritis breaks out in city again The Hindu : Front Page

The Hindu : Front Page : Gastroenteritis breaks out in city again: "Nearly 40 people from Shamanna Garden in RPC Layout, off Vijayanagar, are down with symptoms of gastroenteritis (GE) and 23 have been admitted in the Epidemics Diseases Hospital (Isolation Hospital) on Old Madras Road.

The hospital authorities said that all in-patient cases were confirmed as gastroenteritis. The patients are down with diarrhoea and vomiting and their stool samples have been sent for examination to the Public Health Institute on Sheshadri Road to confirm whether or not they are infected with cholera.

According to the hospital sources, the patients had developed GE symptoms after drinking contaminated water. There were seven women and an equal number of children among the patients who were treated as inpatients on Monday. Six patients were discharged after treatment earlier in the day.

Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Madangopal, who visited the hospital, instructed the authorities to get in touch with the officials from Bruhat Bangalore Mahangara Palike (BBMP) and ensure that steps were taken to prevent the spread of the epidemic. Residents of Shamanna Garden told The Hindu that sewage from a huge drain was overflowing on the roads in the locality and the drinking water lines were almost submerged in the sewage. Syed Mubarak, whose kin has been admitted in the hospital, said water supplied through the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) lines was getting mixed with sewage.

However, the BWSSB claimed that water supplied to Shamanna Garden was not contaminated. “We tested the water immediately after we got complaints. We found 0.1 ppm of chlorine. Finding traces of chlorine means that it does not harbour any water borne diseases,” said T. Venkatraju, Chief Engineer, (Maintenance), BWSSB. "

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Deccan Herald - Showers leave City parched

Deccan Herald - Showers leave City parched: "After a night without power, Bangalo-reans had to endure a day without water. As if to compound their misery, residents of several layouts had to wait till Wednesday evening for power to be restored.

Thanks to the BBMP’s outsourcing formula at a time when it was needed the most.

According to Palike sources, the private contractors assigned the work of clearing fallen tree trunks from the roads had failed to turn up on time. Since it was late in the night, the contractors apparently found it tough to reach the disaster zones. The actual work started only on Wednesday morning, and most harried victims had to fend for themselves till evening.

A Koramangala resi-dent, Prakash, told Deccan Herald that when he called the BESCOM’s area engineer, he discovered that there was a communication gap between the department and the Palike.

Lines restored
However, BESCOM officials claimed their workers were pressed into service early Wednesday morning to cut the branches, remove the snapped wires and replace them. “We have been on the job since morning.” He said that the Koramangala and Madivala regions had suffered the worst, losing about 60 electric poles, followed by 49 at BTM layout, while Ejipura, Jayanagara and Bannerghatta Road reported loss of 20, 14 and five electric poles respectively.

Water woes
On Wednesday, OMBR Layout, HRBR Layout, Kamanahalli, Pillana Garden and Machilibeta in Bangalore East were particularly hit by the water shortage. “We have not received complaints from any other area,” said BWSSB Chief Engineer, Venkataraju. “The supply will be normal in these areas and all over the City from Thursday,” he added.
The BWSSB had informed the media that water will be affected all over the City as the pumping of water at the four stages of Cauvery Water Supply at Tataguni power station had to be shut down due to lack of power supply.

Abdul Subham A, Senior DGM, BEL, a resident of Veerana Garden in Fraser Town, said, “There was no stoppage of water as such. However, the usual force with which water comes was missing.”

Areas in darkness for 48 hours-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

Areas in darkness for 48 hours-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India: "re-poll promises of 24/7 power don't seem to amuse Bangaloreans. For some city areas have had no power for two days, while some others have been in darkness for at least 23 hours.

Heavy rain and gusty winds on Tuesday night brought down electric poles and damaged the transformers, cutting power supply in many areas. With no power to pump water, water supply, too, has been hit. Adding to the people's woes is the summer heat.

For instance, there has been total blackout in nearly 2,000 houses in Bismillahnagar, III Main Bannerghatta Road, since Tuesday night. Power had not been restored even till late Thursday evening. Altaf Ali's house is a case in example. With no power, no water and no fresh air, the residents have been living in virtual hell.

"It was a nightmare for two days. Water was distributed as we could not pump water. Without fans, it was unbearable. Food and milk products stored in the refrigerator have started rotting," complained Altaf Ali. In fact, power supply was restored only after TOI complained to the Bescom complaint cell about Bismillahnagar's plight.

If not two days, some areas, too, were in the dark for at least a day. Wednesday's rain damaged electric poles in Koramangala up to 8th Block, Madivala, Sadguntepalya and Victoria Layout — they did not have power from 7 pm on Wednesday to 6.30 pm on Thursday.

"The strong winds have damaged the power network and we will need some time to repair them. If there is a pole collapse, then several lines will be damaged and power cannot be restored immediately," said Bescom officials.

Water pumping was affected on Tuesday and Wednesday as there was a power failure in Somanahalli grid which had disrupted water supply in the city. Minor problems continued in the west areas as the BWSSB has not been able to meet the growing demand.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Rain, wind plunge City into darkness Deccan Herald

Deccan Herald - Rain, wind plunge City into darkness: "Darkness engulfed a large part of Bangalore on Tuesday, as high-velocity winds and rain uprooted over 40 electric poles and more than 50 trees across the City, besides affecting the 400 KVA power station at Somanahalli.

Water supply hit
With power severely disrupted, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) announced late Tuesday night that water supply will not be available throughout Wednesday.

Power supply was affected in several parts of the City, including Jayanagar, Banashankari, ISRO Layout, Basavana-gudi, Girinagar and surrounding areas.

“The worst part is that the Power Grid Corpo-ration Limited’s (PGCL) 400kVA power station at Somanahalli has also been affected, while the 220kVA line connec-ting the City has also been damaged due to the rains,” said a top official from the Bangalore Electricity Supply Com-pany (BESCOM).

The sudden rain accompanied by gusty winds left a trail of destruction on Tuesday evening. The BESCOM official said the damage was so severe that it would be tough to assess the loss since the overhead electric cables had snapped at several places. Till late Tuesday night, power supply could not be restored.

He said efforts to restore power from Peenya proved futile.

Heavy rain uprooted over 22 trees in Jayanagar, J P Nagar, Koramangala and BTM Layout. Over 16 trees crashed in Jayanagar alone.

Traffic police in Jayanagar had a tough time clearing the fallen trees and branches. Help was sought from the fire brigade to restore normal traffic flow.

BBMP sources said trees were also uprooted on Indiranagar 10th Main, Jayanagar I Block, 7th Cross, 3 Block, Koramanagala 4th Block, Ragigudda slums, BTS bus depot Jayanagar 4 Block, near APS college Basavanagudi, near former chief minister Kumaraswamy's residence in J P Nagar. BDA flats near BTM Layout, Kumara Swamy Layout, 4th ‘T’ Block near VT School and 8the Main Koramanagala. Dozens of vehicles, including a BMTC bus, were damaged.

The Airport recorded 31. 7 mm of rain while the city reported traces of rainfall according to the Meteorological Department (MD).

Cyclonic trigger
Wind gust reached a peak of 73 km per hour at airport and in the city a peak of 58 km per hour was generated locally, said Director, MD, Muthuchami. Currently there is a severe cyclonic storm over Bay of Bengal-550 kms East-North East of Chennai, which is likely to move initially northward and thereafter towards Northeast, he said.

Wind speed around cyclonic storm will be in the range of 110-130 kms per hour. The rainfall is triggered by a cyclonic storm, he explained. There is a possibility of thunderstorm and possibility of rain and thundershowers on Wednesday.

Water supply
Water supply will be affected in the city on Wednesday due to power failure at Somanahalli central grid. Pumping of water has been stopped at Tataguni substation in Cauvery water supply stage 124. All the 18 pumps in the substation need to be restructured when power is restored and so water supplies will be affected, said Chief Engineer BWSSB, Venkataraju. Water supply will be normal on Thursday, he added.