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‘Regularising illegal buildings will boost BBMP revenue’

IAS officer M Lakshminarayana,spoke to Johnson T A on what the future holds for Bangalore.

Written by Johnson TA |
October 17, 2013 5:15:12 am

Despite being one of the fastest growing and most livable cities in India,Bangalore is crippled by multiple problems. The garbage disposal woes of the city grabbed international headlines last year. Commuting in the city remains a nightmare. The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is under a large debt burden.

IAS officer M Lakshminarayana,who was appointed the BBMP commissioner by the Congress government in the state,has wrestled with the challenges for a little over four months now. He spoke to Johnson T A on what the future holds for the city.

How has your tenure been so far?

When I took over,the situation was bad. Slowly but steadily we are putting things together. We are taking control of the situation,and this gives me satisfaction.

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The BBMP has a Rs 4,000-crore debt. The budget is inflated and unrealistic. The revenue always falls short of the projection. How can the BBMP manage the city and its infrastructure in such a situation?

Debt is a part of the system if a city or state wants to grow fast. But it will have to be kept at a minimum till revenue growth takes control. Bangalore has the basic infrastructure for revenue growth. The debt situation is not so bad,though there have been issues with clearance of bills of contractors.

Will Bangalore end up bankrupt like Detroit in the US? The Chief Minister once said the state cannot continue to provide the BBMP funds to create infrastructure.?

Bangalore cannot be compared to Detroit. There is a strong,growing population in Bangalore,there is growing employment,investment,there is a thriving IT and services industry,there are world-class hospitals,there is a fairly large amount of remittance from people living abroad. The Chief Minister has been a great support and takes decisions with the interest of Bangalore in mind. A lot of money has been allocated to Bangalore in the budget.

What are the new revenue sources the BBMP is looking at? Growth in property tax,the main source of revenue for the BBMP,has not kept pace with the increase in debt.?

The government plan to regularise illegal constructions will boost BBMP revenue. It will help put in place a system where people will come forward to pay property dues. Till now,the BBMP has not been able to effectively collect property taxes. If properties are regularised,it will be an incentive to pay taxes. Revenue will grow as a result and debt can be reduced to a minimum in a few years.

For nearly four years,the BBMP has not brought out a white paper on its finances. Do you plan to do so?

There is no need for a white paper. If we manage our resources effectively,minimise debt and fulfil commitments,people will be happy.

The broken garbage disposal system remains a big challenge. With the intervention of the Karnataka High Court,do you see the system improving?

Right now we are working to establish time-tested systems that are workable and manageable. Technology is not enough,we need the involvement of people. People are key to the success of garbage management. We want effective participation of people at every level — segregation at source,street cleanliness,minimising dark spots. We cannot achieve anything if people don’t cooperate.

While the involvement of people would be needed at the segregation and collection levels it is the disposal system that poses the bigger challenge.?

When it comes to disposal,the concept we are trying to put in place is a ‘future with no landfills’. We are working out a system where dry waste is collected locally. We are setting up nearly 20 biogas plants and exchanges for hotel waste. We are managing a lot of things in situ. That level should go up many folds for a future with no landfills.

How do you plan to deal with bulk generators of garbage such as hotels and apartments?

If we have to achieve the target of no landfills we have to have a large number of composting facilities which will ensure wet waste for biogas production. We are setting up many biogas plants in the city to manage hotel waste. Converting waste to energy,minimum transport of waste is what we hope to achieve in one-two years. Bangalore can be a model for waste disposal if plans are implemented effectively in a time-bound manner with the active support of people. There will be punitive action as well.

The roads in Bangalore are battered,making commuting in most of the city a nightmare. ?

In another six months,the roads will be restored. Next monsoon,the roads will not be as bad.

The Chief Minister,on his return from China,asked engineers to make roads as durable as in that country. What is being done to create long-lasting roads in Bangalore?

We are looking at a new technology. We are the first city after Delhi to take the Tender SURE (specifications for urban road execution) route. As many as 18 major roads will be made world-class using Tender SURE.

There is talk of expanding the BBMP limits to include Hoskote and Devanahalli. ?

The government is considering reducing the area under the BBMP,not expanding it.

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