With part-timers at the top, can BDA function efficiently?

In a sign that the Bangalore Development Authority could be severely hamstrung, three of its top decision-makers are juggling their responsibilities with other agencies.

BDA commissioner Rakesh Singh holds additional charge as principal secretary, water resources department; and chairman of the Karnataka Milk Federation. Town planner Thippeswamy N K is also appointed as planner at the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA). After town planning member P N Nayak had retired, superintendent engineer Ravindran has been holding that position as an additional responsibility.

While this has left citizens aghast, especially in the wake of crises such as the recent Bellandur Lake fire, the government is blas about the situation.

The officials need to work collectively to bring out the comprehensive Master Plan 2031, besides putting their heads together to work out solutions for several important issues. The government, however, would like to continue with the existing set up until the elections or tabling of the master plan in the Cabinet, whichever happens first.

"Whenever we call or visit the BDA, we're told that the town planner is in the BMRDA," lamented Keshav K, a citizen.

"When we approach the engineer member's office, we're told he's not competent to make statements since he's only holding additional charges.

He also pointed out that the commissioner comes to the BDA at a fixed timing and is always crowded by officials to get the files cleared.

Bengaluru development minister K J George - also the BDA minister - saw no problem in an official from the BMRDA holding additional charge at BDA since there is not much work. "Besides, there's a shortage of IAS officers and it's difficult to appoint someone exclusively as BDA commissioner," he added.

The minister said he would not like to disturb the present set up until the master plan is presented before the Cabinet. All decisions made by engineers are implemented only after the commissioner's approval, George reasoned, adding that there is also a shortage of engineers.

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