Nothing much to cheer about

LOOKING BACK: Bengaluru

Nothing much to cheer about

Even as Bengaluru made headlines globally during 2014 for varied reasons such as the successful Mars mission and terror-related incidents, the residents of the City had nothing much to cheer about this year.

While there were no significant initiatives by government agencies to address the public woes and create a feel-good factor, the monthly budget of scores of families swelled as bus fares as well as power and water tariffs were increased substantially in the year gone by.

While the entire country can be proud of the success of the Mars orbiter mission, Bengaluru can feel a greater pride as the Mars orbiter was put together in the IT capital apart from two other centres.

The Mars spacecraft monitoring centre too is in the City which controls and commands the orbiter. The ISRO Telemetry and Tracking Command Network in Peenya did all the manoeuvring of the Mars spacecraft.

Launched in November 2013, the mission approached the martian orbit successfully on September 24, 2014, after a nine-month and 66 million-km journey. With the success, India became the first country in the world to reach the Martian orbit in its very first attempt.

On the flop side, Bengaluru hogged the limelight internationally for all the wrong reasons after a British news channel on December 11 came out with startling revelations that the Islamic State’s (IS) most influential Twitter account @ShamiWitness was being operated from Bengaluru by an MNC staffer, Mehdi Basroor Biswas.

The City police, in a swift action, arrested Mehdi, a West Bengal native, from his rented house in Jalahalli here. Soon after Mehdi’s arrest, the police received threatening tweets that revenge was in the offing for their action against the pro-IS 

Twitter handle.
Incidentally, barely 15 days after Mehdi was arrested, a low-intensity bomb exploded at the bustling Church Street on the night of December 28, killing a woman and injuring three men.

The City witnessed a series of protests by various groups in July seeking foolproof measures for safety of women and children in the wake of the gang-rape of a postgraduate student inside a car at Cox Town and a six-year-old girl at Vigbyor High school in Maratahalli.

The image of the police department took a beating, this year, after a case was registered against the then AGDP (KSRP) P Ravindranath for allegedly clicking photos of a woman on his camera phone at a coffee shop on Cunningham Road on May 26.

Later, Ravindranath accused the then Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar of hatching a conspiracy against him. Ravindranath even lodged a complaint against Auradkar and then DCP (Central) B R Ravikanthe Gowda under the provisions of SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act.

Transport sector
The year 2014 was indeed an eventful one for the transport sector compared to others.  The long-awaited Namma Metro Green line (Sampige Road to Peenya Industry) was launched on February 28. Another major achievement for BMRCL was the tunnel breakthrough in the underground Chikpet station in October. However, the BMRCL has an uphill task to meet its Phase I deadline by December-end.

The rape of a woman passenger by a Uber car driver in Delhi in the first week of December virtually spelt doom for the taxi service operators in Bengaluru too with government tightening the noose around web/app based taxi services.  

Broke BBMP
The poor financial condition of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) came to the fore this year and several cheques issued by the civic agency bounced for lack of sufficient funds. In the first week of January, the cash-strapped Palike even went to the extent of pledging the Town Hall. The move was discarded following a rap by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

The Palike came under attack from the High Court on many occasions for its failure to clear encroachment of storm water drains and pavements. The negligence of BBMP in covering a drain on Bannerghatta Road resulted in the death of a nine-year-old girl who fell into it during the heavy rains on October 7.

The BMTC, BMRCL, BWSSB and Bescom drilled a hole in the pockets of Bangloreans this year. While the BMTC hiked the bus fares by 15 per cent,  the BMRCL revised fares for services between MG Road and Byappanahalli. Though the minimum fare for travelling on the Metro remains Rs 10, the travel between M G Road and Byappanahalli was hiked to Rs 17, up by Rs two. 

After dilly-dallying for over a year, BWSSB increased the water tariff by more than 20 per cent in November. The minimum water bill for domestic connections was increased from Rs 83 to Rs 100 a month. The power tariff was increased by a whopping 32 per cent in May.

Bangalore to Bengaluru
Bangalore was renamed as Bengaluru with effect from November 1, the day on which Kannada Rajyotsava is celebrated. The Karnataka government had made a proposal to the Centre on October 27, 2006 to rename 12 cities and towns, including Bangalore.

In October 2014, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh gave approval for the long-pending proposal.

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