B'luru infra will kill industries

Even as the Karnataka government and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) persist with ignoring Bengaluru’s infrastructural woes, IT and ITES companies are looking outside the City and the State to implement their expansion plans. Frustrated with Bengaluru’s abysmal facilities – its severely potholed and unlit roads, traffic jams, erratic power supply, and inadequate and unsafe public transport, to name just a few – and forced to bear massive producti-vity losses on account of this, they are reportedly putting their expansion plans in the City on hold and considering cities like Hyderabad, Pune, Navi Mumbai and even China to put into effect their expansion plans. According to an estimate by the Outer Ring Road Companies |Association (ORRCA), IT and ITES companies here are losing around Rs 22,770 crore per year. Poor road and transport infrastructure keeps their employees on the road for hours on end, leaving fewer hours for work and undermining their capacity to put in their best. If productivity losses in one area are running into tens of thousands of crores, one can imagine the magnitude of losses to the companies across the City. And yet, the government doesn’t seem to care. Productivity losses cannot be dismissed as problems of the companies, especially when the latter are considering moving out. The employment of lakhs of people is at stake.

Grand promises were made by various parties ahead of the BBMP elections. Five months thereon, all it has done to improve roads and address traffic jams in Bengaluru is to fill a few potholes. The Bangalore Metropolitan Planning Committee (BMPC) hasn’t met even once since it was formed 18 months ago, indicating that planning the City’s infrastructure continues to be a top-down process that often results in costly projects of little public benefit being prioritised. The City needs more than cosmetic measures and superficial face-lifts. In less than a month from now, Bengaluru will host the Invest Karnataka meet to woo global companies to invest in the state. Even well-established industrial estates lack approach roads. Why would investors feel convinced to put their money in plots and projects that may go nowhere?

There is a positive role that IT companies and their employees can play. Traffic jams that delay commutes to work and home are the result of not only poor roads but also too many vehicles on these roads. Taking public transport is the way out. Companies must provide buses and vans that are safe for employees and reward/provide employees incentives to take buses to work.

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