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BMIC - losing relevance?

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These days, when facing opposition over satellite town SEZ plans from Congress(I), HDK frequently refers to the "Rs 10/acre/year" giveaway offered to NICE for BMIC project. And the funny thing is that it was HDK's father Mr Deve Gowda who signed the MoU for this project back in 1995 (Source - NICE page. Does anyone know if he was a signatory to the Rs 10/acre/year deal as well?)

Yep, the project has been controversial. Surf around on the web and you find a mix of negative voices (ESG, Indiatogether) and some positive notes though far (BusinessWeek, Sep 2005 - what do they know!?) and few (Indian Express, Oct 2005). Not knowledgeable enough yet to take a side myself, but I notice that this project might be losing a bit of its relevance.

Notice these recent developments that may or may not have been planned with NICE-snubbing in mind :

1) A key objective of the project was to decongest Bangalore. With the new SEZs and BMRDA townships in adjoining towns, and grand plans for peripheral ring roads, that objective might not require a successful BMIC any more.
2) SH17 to Mysore is getting to be in real good shape. 4 laned road looks pretty good right now, 6 laning and a few town bypasses are on the cards.
3) Bangalore Mysore Railway track doubling work is already on.

To those who see BMIC as a mere connectivity project (I don't), point #2 and #3 should be it. For the rest who see this as a larger decongestion plan, point #1 is the relevant one. Either way, with competition on transportation as well as remote township fronts, you wonder if the project has taken a hit on its financial viability now.

May be this was the risk Mr Kheney took when he bargained himself that "Rs 10/acre/year" reward :)

Comments

tsubba's picture

some counterpoints...

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SH17 will continue to be 4 lane, the additional 2 lanes are access roads. Quality of pavement is fine, but unless they do a relook into various intersections, geometry & design (safety features like things like median width) on this road, and retrofit access control on this road it cannot function as a real safe artery. At a minimum, they could have copied specs of BMIC PRR. The double track is ofcourse a different issue and can be a real force multiplier. But it will still be a railways’ link. So, while existing services might transit faster, frequency enhancements will still be subject to whims of babus in dilli. My take on #2 & #3 is not to say that BMIC road is essential but only to discuss the constraints on SH & DT. Regarding #1, when first conceived I think it was more an idea to bootstrap infrastructure development in the region rather than decongestion. In anycase if Bidadi comes up and BMIC’s township comes up next door, it would only make Bidadi more self complete. And can only help Bangalore’s decongestion. But the BMIC’s activities have been notoriously opaque. Plus I am not too sanguine about cutting through Cauvery basin just like that. BMIC PRR, however, is a different story, and is a significant addition to Bangalore’s infrastructure. If the techies were half a vote bank the Gowdas wouldn’t have treated it with so much disdain. I am not worried about Kheny losing money any time soon. Even if BMIC works out till Bidadi, he still will be sitting on a considerable prime land bank. it is not irrelevant to bangalore and its relevance to bangalore does not depend on it going beyond Bidadi
silkboard's picture

partly agree

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About 6-lane road - those 2 new lanes are service lanes on either side, but they make a big difference as far as segregating wrong-side drivers and jaywalkers from fast traffic is concerned. If they do bypass a few cities on the way, a 6 lane road wont be that bad. If they do BDA's PRR, Mono tracks around Mysore road as planned, satellite bus terminal near SH17 entry to the city, and if rail double track happens, public transport driven connectivity will be a lot better than what it is today.

But yes, unless we are talking a super well connected system of commuter buses and trains - staying far from the city or Electronics City and commuting everyday - that model would be better possible and successful in spreading out middle-class workers South of Bangalore with a world class expressway.

Beyond phase A (expressway till Bidadi + the peripheral road + Link road) the project doesn't have as much relevance to Bangalore. It probably is more relevant for Mysore, but good connectivity till there should help industries expand out to Mysore. Live near Mysore and work in Ramangaram or Bidadi with a 60-70 km commute (45 minutes?), or vice versa - aren't those some possibilities?

True, NICE has been very opaque in its methods. The thing is, BMIC as the project concept is liked by plenty of folks (myself included), but the execution terms (land lease rate, real land requirements) and executing party (NICE) don't excite many.

Visitor's picture

the bigger good

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I am nonplussed by the amount of "high ground" taken by people opposing the BMIC project. First of all, i am neither from the NICE family or a likely direct beneficiary (indirect by a long stretch of imagination). First of all - BMIC is a project that was signed by the Government of Karnataka (or its affliates) and needs to be honoured. The hounding everybody agrees is because the Gowda's have taken a personal dislike for it (lets keep it simple - it could be $s) and have vowed to harass him no end. The project will allow multiple options to travel from bangalore (hosur road upto mysore) for a large number of commuters and the townships have their advantages as well. Will the ESG take a look at madiwala lake, hebbal lake to quote a few - to see the damage being done to them on a daily basis instead of harping only on the gottigere lake? The amount of hyacinth covering & killing the lake seems intentional - every week the Lake development authority commissioner ( another IAS joker) announces in the Realty Times ( ToI) that the lakes are doing very well and everything is fine. Rubbish! i tried to talk to ESG regarding this but this was simply not on their priority list. Who is responsible for not tarring the alternate roads from Electronic City to Bangalore ( via Begur, Naganathapura et al) - K H Muniyappa or Revanna or the PWD Head (Another IAS joker) all brush it off - saying developmental work is happening ( everybody is lining their pockets ) - so WHY blame Kheny alone? He seems to have become the FALL GUY. I think before throwing stones at a glass house (KHENY & CO) - pl. introspect and prosecute the incredibly corrupt trio of politicians+bureacrats+police for raping and destroying bangalore. Of course, all of us residents of bangalore are equally to blame - but atleast these B@#$%&*} have the power to do something about it.
tsubba's picture

But all is not so simple...

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There is so much confusion around the project that who-is-doing-what-is not clear. And it is not clear that NICE is not upto any hanky panky. Yesterday the Karnataka High Court asked if NICE were to strictly abide by the original framework agreement, would the state have any legal problem with handing over the land? Does this mean NICE has deviated from the agreement? And, does this mean NICE has accepted to having deviated from the agreement given that the court is not going to ask this type of question on its own? For its part the state has said that if the NICE sticks to agreement and does not ask for additional land then it is legally bound to co-operate. The court also wanted to know exact details of the lands being transacted. How much was given to NICE, how much the state has and how much it is acquiring. So even after so many years how much of what is being transacted is not known.(or does this mean that only the KHC does not now.) I agree with you, afa Bangalore is concerned, BMIC is an important infrastructure project and something like BMIC-PRR would have a positive impact. There is no question about the quality of BMIC road either, and the state govt could learn a few things from it. Sound barriers, shoulders and median with drains, these are not superficial things but essential safety features. But it is more important that everything is done sytematically. Even if the state is interested in it for political/personal reasons, because of what the state is doing, atleast somebody out there is scrutinizing this whole deal. If everything were clean as a whistle on NICE's part the state would have no case. And when you see that 12 years later a court is still asking for clarifications it is not immediate that the whistle is clean. PS: please consider registering so that we can distinguish you from other anons.
namma nadu's picture

TS, I think there is a need

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TS, I think there is a need to distinguish the strong arm tactics of the state government (like asking KSPCB to withdraw clearance certificate) and the genuine 'legal' queries that the government is raising. Uday Holla's point that the government lacked trust in NICE - is ridiculous - if the government could prove that the alignment had been changed by NICE for its own benefit (albeit illegally), it could come back to court to press its charge. Up front, it is making malicious allegations - which are taken into cognisance - because its the highest legal appointee of the state government (State Advocate General). Lets say, that a PIL is filed in the court stating that the public lack Trust in the Government to implement a project (which anyway screws up most projects), the court would not hear of it. So its pretty clear, that it is petty politics which is the main issue. Now, we all know that there is a lot of secrecy shrouded in this project but does anybody think that the Government has all the details ? If anything, they are also shooting in the dark -- just to protect vested interests -- and harass Kheny & Co.
Vasanth's picture

BMIC means a lot to Mysore than Bangalore

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Hi, For Bangaloreans, BMIC means only a peripheral road and few satellite townships. But, for Mysoreans, BMIC means a lot. It is a dream of Mysoreans to reach Bangalore as quickly as possible without compromising safety. Monorail promise to reach Bangalore in 40 minutes is still being dreamt by optimistic Mysoreans. Developing Srirangapatna as Tourism Centre, Industrial Centre in Channapatna and IT townships near Bidadi are all dreams for Mysoreans so that they can work near Bangalore and return back to their homeplace. Small irrelavent things are preventing the project. Mandya farmers are welcoming it - But, Bangalore politicians and IAS / KAS officers are preventing / delaying things. There is nothing that needs to be transparent - Any project needs blessings from politicians which has not happened for BMIC and which in turn has turned into a curse.
tsubba's picture

Two Sides To A Coin

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NN, "I think there is a need to distinguish the strong arm tactics of the state government (like asking KSPCB to withdraw clearance certificate) and the genuine 'legal' queries that the government is raising." "Now, we all know that there is a lot of secrecy shrouded in this project but does anybody think that the Government has all the details?" These are very perceptive statements that clearly point out how the "govt" is going about the BMIC issue and also correctly highlight that there is no united sarkari machinery that is working in unison to undermine BMIC. Yesterday a babu was suspended for transferring 160 acres near Kengeri to NICE, yet again establishing that even HDK finds it tough to control the babus. There is no denying that politics and vested interests are driving all this. What i am saying is these have exposed issues that would have otherwise not come to light. And I would argue that, that is how "democracy" works. Even if it is a perverted instance of it, which is prolly protecting highly vested interests (like that babu who built a layout at gottigere, forcing BMIC to pass over the kere), it also establishes that you cannot easily bulldoze the system by buying up sections of the govt. There is no correlation between requirements, records, and transfer of land between BMIC and "govt" and requirements have been allegedly spiked whimsically thanks to babus who have received favours to fudge records and make concessions to NICE. Such a discrepancy can only come up with colluding babus. (babus who have received plum positions and gifts on NICE's roll are not really a rare species.) At the same time some other babus teaming with HDK(for a price I'm sure) have dug up files that in all probability forced NICE to concede yesterday, that it has deviated from framework agreement. I can see your point about the perversion involved in HDK using KSPB to his ends. But it is also true that EC was not published in kannada and even in english it is not public. As SB said, it is not clear which side to take. I would add you cannot take sides. Everybody has their interests, including entities like ESG, who have raised heaven and hell over gottigere but have remained silent even as they have dried up Hebbal kere in the middle of a breeding season to build a floating restaurant.

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