BENGALURU: The happening city of the country and the rest of Karnataka virtually came to a grinding halt for almost a week due to strikes, bandhs, protests and rain. As a result, the State has suffered huge losses --- an estimated Rs 8,000-9,000 crore. The week beginning from July 25-30 was a complete washout with three days of KSRTC and BMTC strike, two days of Karnataka bandh on the Mahadayi issue, one-day bank strike on the merger issue followed by incessant rains and unprecedented floods in the IT areas of Bengaluru.
Industry experts in Karnataka estimate that on an average, the state suffered a huge economic loss of Rs 1,000-1,500 crore per day due to the continuous strike by the banking and transport sector followed by the bandh.
Bengaluru, which contributes to 65 per cent of the state’s revenue was the worst hit, suffering a loss of Rs 600-800 crore per day. With 35-45 per cent of industrial employees working in small and medium sectors, the transport strike hit the production target and schedules of many resulting in cancellation of orders especially in the garment, food, IT and engineering services. The transport, education sector, retail shopping and entertainment sector also suffered huge losses.
Decrying the week-long shutdown of the state, FKCCI president M C Dinesh said, “The challenges were many like working with a skeletal staff where the transport strike crippled the attendance of the workforce. We need a little more political will to deal with such a situation. It is very difficult for the economy to sustain if the industry does not function for six days.”
In the last one year, the state’s economy has not picked up, says economist D Murlidhar. “A pathetic situation where all transactions came to a standstill and payments delayed. Whoever is organising such bandhs should realise it will have no effect on their claims.”
Murlidhar observed that though the Supreme Court had said that bandhs should be banned, the ruling party’s encouragement and ineffectiveness has worsened the situation. “Usually strikes do not produce the desired result. The transport strike and the government yielding to a 12.5 per cent hike has sent a wrong signal.”
The Bengaluru conundrum
On the recurring problems of Bengaluru, well-known industrialist J Crasta said, “As it is,investors and industrialists are flocking to Andhra and Telangana with the Bengaluru airport benefiting them more than Bengaluru. Investors are moving away from our city as connectivity, roads, solid waste management, sanitation, power and water issue are deplorable. Flooding was waiting to happen. The real estate developers have ruined the city.”
Added to this, the IT city’s civic problems have multiplied with the government failing in its efforts to address any issue of the city, the FKCCI president bemoaned. “Not just the state government, even the Centre should seriously look at the city’s problems. After all it is a global city contributing much to the Indian economy.” It’s high time the city became Greater Bengaluru and started moving 40-50km outwards -- Tumakuru and Kolar. Any infrastructure issue should also incorporate internal railway alignment for the city to end its connectivity problems.