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Points for submission to the KARC(2) Citizen Feedback meet (to be held on on 2nd March, 2022):

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Governance
For the state, housing the tech capital of the country, which provides services & manufactures goods for customers across the world, what is lacking is professionalism in its basic administration. It has long been appreciated that government has serious limitations in this regard, particularly with the complexities of the fast changing world, and as such, it would be best to partner with our private sector players, more so when they have proved themselves to be world leaders in their respective fields. A case in point is in the power sector, more particularly - distribution, which I have listed first below (similar models can be worked out for other fields too):   
 
1) Power supply: The KPCL balance sheet for the year ended 31-03-2019 (latest seen on their web-site), shows receivables at Rs 17,426 cr, more than twice the Income for the year @ Rs 8,960 cr, which would have earned the company a label as a "non-performing asset", if not for the Government guarantee. This is clearly indicative of the dismal state of the entire power sector in the state, up and down the chain. The answer simply lies in privatising power distribution, perhaps along the most successful & equitable Delhi PPP model - check @ http://praja.in/en/blog/murali772/2018/08/05/failed-ppps-and-finally-good-model , which is now being adopted by Odisha too. This will besides unburden the state exchequer by thousands of crores too. This is a low-hanging fruit.
 
2) Public bus transport services: The biggest factor hindering any meaningful solution to Bengaluru's mobility problems, and thereby traffic problems too, is the BMTC monopoly. This is while many other cities have conceded space to private players, at least partially (for the high-end services). The answer again calls for further opening up of the sector to private players (in the entire state too) - check @ http://praja.in/en/blog/murali772/2019/07/16/outline-most-equitable-public-bus-transport-model
 
3) Water supply: Karnataka has actually picked itself up, after the failed (rather sabotaged) water supply outsourcing job to JUSCO in Mysore, and gone ahead and entered into fresh PPP arrangements in little known town-ships (perhaps not to attract the attention of the nay-sayers) like Magadi, Bidar, Basavakalyan, Shahabad, Yadgir, etc, though KUWSDB. Following their success, it has lately moved onto Mangaluru too, with the municipality there engaging the services of SUEZ for upgrading it's water supply scheme to make it 24 X 7, over the next ten years. 
 
Meanwhile, Nagpur has become India's first city to treat and reuse close to 91% percent of the total sewage water generated within the city. Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), city’s civic body, recycles 480 million litres per day (MLD) of sewage from 525 MLD that is produced. Efforts are already underway to increase the capacity and push to a higher percentage.
 
In comparison, our BWSSB is still struggling to reduce unaccounted for losses from some 45% to 42% (or thereabouts). Switch to equitable PPP mode for distribution is perhaps the only sustainable way out.
 
Ground water extraction too needs to be properly regulated, which can perhaps be best achieved through exclusive electricity metering.
 
4) Govt & Private hospitals & medical education regulation: The dismal status as it obtained, in this regard, in 2016 is brought out @ http://praja.in/en/blog/murali772/2016/02/01/business-medical-education . Some changs have happend since then; but it's totally inadeqate. Govt of Karnataka had, as far back as in 2017, apparently commissioned the services of the #NLSIU, Bangalore, to draft a bill to remedy the situation. What is the status on that? 
 
The matter has gained attention of recent because of the plight of students studying medicine in Ukraine, China, Philippines, etc. 
 
5) Multi-storied Atartment Complex regulations: Large sections of the city population are now residing in apartment complexes, and that's inevitably going to grow in future. Unfortunately, the key KAOA Act pertaining to their administration has had a few lacunae, right from the beginning, and they have not been adequately addressed so far. I had submitted a report on the amendments, and a few other steps, needed to be taken, in this regard, to the Chairman of the Commission. He had prima facie expressed merit in them, and stated that he will be recommending them to the government for implementation. It needs urgency.  
 
6) Property tax: For the tech capital of the country, its municipal body, the BBMP, collects only a small percentage of the tax on-line, largely because of the entire process being most user unfriendly. None less than the former Addl Chief Secretary, Mr K Jairaj, apart from many others, have repeatedly argued in favour of outsourcing the job to professional players, like TCS, etc (like the Passport Dept has done for it's back-end work), whereby the tax collection can go up to its full potential (at least 3 times the present level), obviating the need for any additional levy. 
 
Decades back, Mr Naresh Narasimhan had talked about overlaying details of all utilities, services, etc etc on digital maps, accessible at the BBMP web-site. This can happen only if the job is professionalised, starting from property tax collection.
 
7) Re-structuring city governance: Every citizen has woken up to the urgent need for city governance reforms. A most comprehensive report was prepared by the govt constituted B S Patil committee, after extensive stake-holder consultations and based on the best practices from best governed cities across the world. The report, and the bill drafted thereon, are gathering dust, even as all of the so-called 'stake-holders' act in their individual silos, making for the war-zone look alikes of every part of the city.
 
8) Government jobs: Every economist, worth his name, has supported the idea of "less government, more governance". This then will inevitably lead to less "government jobs", which however is what every youth today is hankering after, essentially for the "security" it provides, however boring the job may be. If we are to get the youth out of the government job trap, the only way out could be the institution of UBI (Universal Basic Income). Already, various parties have included implementation of payment of "unemployment allowances" and the like, of the order Rs 5000 per month, in their manifesto's. UBI could be a better option - check @ http://praja.in/en/blog/murali772/2012/05/23/oh-government-job#comment-38734 
 
9) State PSU's: The many state PSU's which are just limping along, need to be either revived through equitable PPP deals, or shut down. The land owned by the ones which need to be shut down could be utilised for affordable housing, again through equitable PPP deals.
 
10) Police reforms, Police Accountability Authority: Enough reports by highly respected retired officers are readily available on the subject. While lip services have been paid about their implementation, very little has happened on the ground. 
 
11) Judicial reforms: In an article in the Times of India, as recently as 27th Feb, the noted columnist, Chetan Bhagat, had commented that "today, the return on investment on adding judicial resources, in terms of additional GDP growth is probably better than any new road or airport", clearly highlighting its significance. Enough more on the subject is available @ http://praja.in/en/blog/murali772/2014/08/04/need-fast-track-entire-judicial-system
 
Regards, Muralidhar Rao
 
 
 

 

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murali772's picture

My takeaways from the panel discussions

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Ravichandar, in his opening remarks, made a very valid point that, from a study of the recommendations made by KARC-2 so far, the concentration appears to have been largely on tweaking the existing systems & procedures. While a fair job of that appears to have been done, all of that can at best bring about some incremental changes. What he was looking for are the big ticket reforms that can make for quantun leaps.
 
I fully endorse that view, and, in fact, my submissions were all about that.
 
Amongst the many interventions from the participants, which were all very valid, I would like to limit my comments to just the point made by a gentleman on the need to reduce 'corruption'
 
That's where the point I listed about "less government; more governance" comes in. Grass-root activists like Ms Kathyayini, Mr Srikant Narasimhan, and others had brought up many issues, pertaining to the existing systems & procedures, still persisting, for all of the recommendations made by KARC, and some possibly ascted upon. As such, there clearly is enough and more of work for the government to do, and which only they are mandated to do. That leaves a whole lot of work that can readily be outsourced to private players, who are far better placed to undertake them, and enough of them have been doing so, and commendably too, from long. A case in point here is the most successful & equitable Delhi power supply PPP model, listed @ 1, in my opening post.
 
This model besides provides an excellent template for all of such undertakings, where a government participation (just that, and not management) may be seen as necessary. Most other areas can be left to the private sector, the government just playing the vital role of facilitator and regulator (not contoller). Thus unburdened from all unnecessary work, it can concentrate on its essential work and become efficient (leaving littlescope for corruption) too, making for a win-win for all
 
Muralidhar Rao

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