BENGALURU: M Goutham Kumar, the new Mayor, means business. Aware of the twin menaces of the city, the potholes and garbage, he told The New Sunday Express in an interview that engineers would be asked to pack up if potholes were not fixed. He set a 100-day time frame for officials to find solutions for the garbage problem.
How do you plan to handle the garbage problem in the city?
As Mayor, I want to find a permanent solution and not just look for a temporary fix. Along with some BBMP officials, I visited the Bagalur, Mittiganahalli and Bellahalli quarries where work is on.
Dumping in the quarries is not the solution. We are looking at setting up bio-methanation plants ward-wise or waste-to-power energy plants.
Discussions are being held with officials and a team will be sent to Delhi to study the best practices. We have set 100 days to find a permanent nature-friendly solution, with our own sources.
Justice Subhash Adi, chairman of the NGT-constituted SWM committee, had suggested decentralisation of waste management at the ward level. Are you implementing his suggestion?
In today’s circumstances, we are looking at what is best. In future, we will look at how dumping yards should be dealt with and gradually closed. Decentralisation is the best solution at this time. We will take his suggestion seriously.
What about potholes?
I have been noting how bad the roads are wherever I go. I have told the BBMP Commissioner to take up the issue immediately. The chief engineers are equipped to handle the potholes and they will have to act immediately. The deadline is for engineers to follow. And if they don’t, they can start to pack up as no leniency will be shown to erring officials.
Soon after you took charge, you were criticised for being a non-Kannadiga. What do you have to say?
I was born and brought up in Ballari district. My first language is Kannada. This soil is my motherland. I will not do anything which will hurt Kannada and Kannadigas. I am as much a Bengalurean and Kannadiga as anybody else. I have been working in my ward for nine years, local Kannadigas have elected me. I have been elected two times from Jogupalya, ward number 89.
What are your top 5 priorities?
My first priority is garbage, where I am trying to streamline things in the next 100 days. The second is to ensure that there is no flooding. And this needs cleaning up of stormwater drains.
The town planning department is working on a policy to ensure that developers build eco-friendly homes in Bengaluru. The other one is to improve BBMP’s financial condition and bring in stability. This is important without which nothing moves.Potholes are important, but chief engineers can handle it.
What is your take on the extension of the term of the Mayor to five years?
The one-year term is too small. A mayor plans something. But by the time it could be implemented, his/her term is over. There should be direct mayoral elections and the term should be for five years so that there will be the maximum time to achieve the goals.
Coordination with other agencies is a major challenge for BBMP.
We as a corporation have some limits and other departments have their own limits. So to solve the coordination issue, a direct mayoral election is the only solution.
Implementation of the 73rd and 74th amendment of the Constitution will help in this case.