Nowhere in site

Nowhere in site

The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), it appears, has been reduced to being a mere real estate agency and an infrastructure commissioning agency over the past three years.

Reeling under severe financial constraints, it has been unable to form layouts and provide housing for Bangaloreans, the key task of the local body.  

Even in its present limited role, the Authority has apparently played into the hands of various lobbies, failing to deliver on promises on multiple counts.

All this has triggered a debate over the very existence of BDA. Although under Article 74 of the Constitution, it is only a metropolitan authority entrusted with planning, BDA has saddled itself with many incomplete infrastructure projects. As an urban planning researcher put it, BDA has given Bangaloreans only “half baked” projects.

These statistics are telling enough: The Authority could raise a revenue of only Rs 413.65 crore in 2010-11 against the estimate of Rs 3,650 crore. Despite this severe shortfall, BDA chose to promise the City something it could not possibly deliver.

A grand budget of Rs 5,067 crore for 2011-12 has translated into virtually nothing for the City. With the planned projects either ending up in legal tussles or stalled due to the Cabinet not giving the clearance, BDA has not been able to complete even the small number of projects proposed by it.

The BDA had estimated that its main source of income would be the sale of sites at the Nadaprabhu Kempegowda Layout and the Dr Shivarama Karanth Layout, a revenue of Rs 1,450.80 crore. Almost an year later, the land acquisition process is still in progress. This snail’s pace has ensured that BDA’s promises are nowhere near being fulfilled, even in the next fiscal.

The Authority had promised compensation to losers of land for the Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) to the tune of Rs 831 crore. However, till date, there is no sign of the money and the land-losers - mostly farmers - are left to fend for themselves. They cannot use their lands, since they have been notified for the project.

The Cabinet approval for the PRR and the two layouts was given four years ago. Yet, the BDA continues to cite these projects while seeking more allocation of funds. Sources said BDA has proposed the same projects for the next fiscal 2012-13, at the pre-budget meeting with the chief minister for increased allocation of funds.

In its 2011-12 budget, the Authority had allotted funds for the upgrading of four markets in the City at an estimated cost of Rs 409.04 crore, with Rs 136.35 crore to be released this financial year. But it could not embark upon this project and has now shown it as a carryover project for the next financial year of 2012-13.

It is yet to be seen whether BDA will be able to complete the Nayandahalli underpass - at the intersection of the Outer Ring Road (ORR) and the Bangalore-Mysore Road - on time.
BDA’s project for a signal-free corridor along the ORR is also progressing at a slackened pace, with the construction still underway at Iblur Crossing and Agara Junction.

The only silver lining for the Authority is the completion of the underpass at the intersection of Magadi Road and Chord Road and the National Military Memorial at Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain.

According to urban planners, the BDA has become an agency for vested interests. It has also been unable to add any new infrastructure to the City.

“The BDA has been taking loans from various financial institutions without even thinking of re-payment strategies. Without its primary job of providing housing for the citizens being fulfilled, the Authority cannot even think of paying back the principal amount, let alone the interest,” says an urban planner.

With things not looking bright, we can only expect another inflated, but unrealistic budget in the next fiscal and not one that delivers on its promises.

BDA budget estimates