Govt agencies must coordinate

Govt agencies must coordinate

That the people of Bengaluru have taken so enthusiastically to Namma Metro ever since it opened in 2011 should have spurred Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) to speed up execution of the project and begin to show decent returns for the huge public investment already made. But, like most public sector projects with minimal accountability, BMRCL is chugging along at its own pace, unmindful of the delays and cost escalations. One reason has been the inability of BMRCL and other government agencies to consult and coordinate on works, which has led in many instances to civic agencies wasting hundreds of crores of rupees on undoing problems that should never have cropped up in the first place. This issue has been now taken to a whole new shameful level. The BMRCL had marked a long stretch of Doddaballapur Road for erecting its piers to connect the Rajanakunte Metro line, but failed to notify other government agencies. Unsurprisingly, and equally callously, the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL) has begun to lay underground power cables along the same route. Its Rs 229 crore project is meant to connect the Yelahanka diesel generator plant with a substation at Singanayakanahalli, about six kilometres away. KPTCL says the tenders for the project were called in 2016, but the work began only two months ago. And, of course, that there was no communication from BMRCL about its plans.

Now, in all probability, several crores of rupees will go down the drain and months will be wasted in shifting the power cables to make way for the Metro. It's not the first time that shifting of cables and pipes have caused losses and inordinate delays. And it won't be the last. The Metro's 14-km underground section of the Gottigere-Nagawara line, too, is in a limbo, as after inviting tenders, BMRCL discovered that the prices quoted for the works were very high. It is now looking at options like reducing the tunnel length or building more over-ground stations. The BBMP plans to take up widening of Pottery Town-Nagawara Road on this stretch. One hopes that the two agencies will talk to each other before they get in each other's way.

Namma Metro has also failed to connect with the Bangalore Metropolitan Transportation Corporation (BMTC), which recently reduced the number of feeder buses it had introduced, citing increasing losses. Feeder buses provide last mile connectivity to Metro passengers and is critical to the success of metro rail systems. It's time BMRCL and other agencies learned the art of consultation and coordination so that the public at large can benefit from public spending on these mega projects.

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