Bengaluru is a global destination that calls New York, London, Paris and Singapore equals. But having its own brand and logo has not distracted the people of this city from a problem that's been on top of their list of complaints for over 15 years — poor infrastructure.
Bangaloreans today have to deal with congested roads, over-crowded public transport, acute water shortage, polluted lakes, sewage and drainage system that drowns during the monsoons and footpaths that turn into death traps.
The promise made by the earlier governments to make Bengaluru another Singapore has come to nought.
Bengaluru, has a voter base of over 89 lakhs and accounts for over 10% of the total assembly seats in the state.
Vijay, resident of Bengaluru said, “The last five years population has increased day by day and if you think about the transport it is worst like anything. To travel 1 km, it takes around 20 -25 minutes.”
Aniket, another resident of Bengaluru said, “When I travel every day in the morning, I find pot holes and water problem still going on. There have been improvement such as Metro .”
The sad state of affairs has prompted many citizens to question what has happened to the money allocated towards infrastructure development every year.
Of the Rs 3,000 crore allotted to state legislators under the local area development scheme, Rs 2,096 crore have been spent in last five years, but not much has come to the capital city.
According to data released by Citizens' group BPAC, in the last three years, 27 of the 28 MLAs from Bengaluru city have spend only Rs 42 crore of the Rs 216 crore allotted, a mere 20% of the total allocation on city infrastructure.
As elections draw closer, these citizens' groups say the next government will have to step up.
Revathy Ashok, CEO, BPAC said, “As far as infrastructure goes, mobility, air pollution, sustainability, managing water has to be a big focus. Suburban rail is a critical issue as there are lot of issues that are between Centre and state, some of it have been ironed out but that needs huge push and that will be a game changer for the city.”
The state Congress government, however, claims many crucial infrastructure projects have been put on the fast-track and are nearing completion such as paving of new footpaths and efforts to reduce traffic congestion.
In addition, government took up urban housing schemes worth over Rs 7,300 crore last year and enacted budgetary outlay of over Rs 2,400 crore towards projects such as white topping of all arterial roads and the development of 88 lakes. In the same breath, however, government admit that a lot more needs to be done.
Dinesh Gundu Rao, Working President, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), said, “I think we need to see that our traffic management improves and several area needs to be decongested. We still need to identify more places for affordable housing in and around the city for the poor. We need to improve the law and order and need to use technology in police in a better way.
But for the people of Bengaluru, it's about better infrastructure that does not harm the environment.
Quite a few projects that the state government has proposed over the last few years have been vetoed by the people of the city. The most recent being
Rs 1,700 crore steel flyover that would come at the cost of over 800 trees. In addition, the ruling Congress will also have to placate voters and dispel the idea that it has misplaced priorities, and allegations of corruption by City Development Minister KJ George. It's this opportunity the BJP is hoping to cash in on.