City won't be pothole-free until early next year: Minister

'Give us four months to repair roads; don't blame us for BJP govt's failure'
Last Updated 27 September 2013, 20:04 IST

Motorists will have to wait till next year to ride on pothole-free roads in the City.

District In-charge Minister Ramalinga Reddy said on Friday that the State government and the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) would need “at least four months” to provide citizens any respite from the numerous potholes dotting the roads.

“Give us time till December or January next year to repair the roads,” Reddy said. “I assure you the government will provide smooth roads after four months in core areas of the City.”

The minister, however, did not give a convincing reply when asked why the government was not filling the potholes, let alone relaying the roads. All along, the government has maintained that potholes would be filled soon after the monsoon. Little has been done in this regard since.

Facing criticism for the “laxity” in providing citizens the basic amenities, Reddy chose to blame the erstwhile BJP government for bad roads and the potholes.

“Did you see any freshly tarred road in the five years of the BJP’s rule,” he went on. “We should not be blamed for their failures. I became the district in-charge only four months ago. We are trying to address the issues one by one.”

It is also said the Congress government is struggling to do business with the BJP-dominated Palike. As a result, decisions on repair of roads have been delayed.
Added to this was the fact that for four months, there was no clarity on powers vested with the mayor to present the budget.

Budget delayed

“The BBMP budget was approved on September 5, after being delayed for different reasons, including the lack of clarity on the mayor’s powers,” Reddy said. “Only when the budget is approved can the roads can be repaired. We will try to solve the problems at the earliest.”

The minister had another explanation for not filling the potholes. He said that 20 days of incessant rains delayed the filling of potholes. As per the Palike budget approved by the government, Rs 400 crore have been allocated for re-asphalting of major roads in the City.

Sources pointed out that the BJP-led BBMP council had re-allocated the funds earmarked for re-asphalting, keeping just Rs 100 crore for the purpose and Rs 300 crore were to be “divided” among the 198 corporators for works in their respective wards. The government, however, decided that more money was needed for re-asphalting of major roads. Hence, it added Rs 300 crore to the funds.

Rs 40 crore re-allocated

For the imminent filling of the potholes, the government has re-allocated Rs 40 crore, as against Rs 20 crore approved by the BBMP council. “For now, potholes on major roads will be filled in the next 20 days,” Reddy said.

As per BBMP statistics, as much as 1,44,793 sq mtr of potholes have been filled over the last two months. The Palike officials have said that no less than 225 roads across the City need re-asphalting as they have been damaged extensively due to heavy traffic.

Lion’s share for ministers’ areas

Ministers Ramalinga Reddy and K J George seem to be the two blessed Congress MLAs from the City who have managed to get Rs 14.85 crore each from the government for development of their respective constituencies. The funds have been allocated for the current fiscal year.

Reddy represents BTM Layout whereas George is from Sarvagnanagar. As the BBMP budget was approved with many changes, the two Assembly segments became the biggest beneficiaries.

While not a single rupee was allocated for them in the BBMP budget passed in July, they struck gold as they happen to be represented by Cabinet ministers. The allocations were approved along with other changes in the BBMP budget by the state government on September 5. No other constituency has been given any extra attention.

(Published 27 September 2013, 20:04 IST)

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