BENGALURU: From Arkavathy Layout to the proposed steel flyover project, Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) has been finding itself in the midst of controversies. Adding to the list is BDA officials being accused of demanding bribes from families who were to receive payments for their lands from BDA.
Irregularities in the process of implementing projects, lack of transparency and issues surrounding compensation to people have been some of the contentious in BDA. A few experts claim that BDA should be shut down as suggested by the Kasturirangan Committee Report in 2008. The report had stated that there is a conflict of interest within the agency and added that the planner cannot be the executor.
In 2015, the BBMP Restructuring Committee, in its report, recommended to dissolve the BDA board. It suggested that BDA be made answerable to Greater Bengaluru Authority (GBA), a body with elected representatives in majority. It recommended retaining the planning function with the BDA and stripping it of regulatory and housing functions.
Urban expert Ashwin Mahesh and architect Naresh Narasimhan also say that it is time the recommendations of the committee are implemented.
Narasimhan says, “There have been so many controversies because the BDA does not have political representation. They are not answerable. Either they report to the chief minister or the development minister. The mess is due to their incompetence in town planning. They depend on secondment from PWD and other private parties. There is an internal vacuum in the board. The fact that they make so many procedural lapses is proof enough.”
Transport expert M N Sreehari says, “The numerous controversies in the BDA is due to the lack of expertise. There is match fixing in the board. They take up projects to favour the real estate giants who dictate the terms.”
Many have questioned the huge discrepancies in the functioning of BDA. The major charges were lack of transparency and mismatch in its estimated budget and actual expenditure.
Urban expert R K Mishra says, “The BDA deals with land and where land is involved there will be issues. Hence, one needs to be explicit in its functioning. It is high time BDA becomes more transparent. It is not the structure but the functioning that is the problem. Today, we are living in a world where people want information and expect the agencies to be more responsive.”
But BDA officials beg to differ. P N Nayak, engineer-member, BDA, says, “Nobody seems to be talking about the worthy projects the BDA has implemented. BDA has built 31 flyovers and underpasses, which have made travelling smoother in the city. Imagine the city without the Outer Ring Road.”
As for controversies, he says, “Arkavathy was in 2004 and it was delayed by the court and KG Layout processes are doing good. As for environmental implication, in any infrastructure project there will be an environmental price and that has to be compensated.”
Stressing the need for BDA, former BDA commissioner Shankarlinge Gowda says, “BDA is necessary for the development of the city. Otherwise, the city’s growth will be haphazard. Issues pertaining to land have come up because of private layouts. As for Arkavathy we should not highlight it much. Bengaluru does not limit itself to Arkavathy. I feel the Peripheral Ring Road should be taken up on priority by addressing the issues.”