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Govt can’t run on DKS’ whims and fancies

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar’s proposal to merge neighbouring Kanakapura with Bengaluru lacks proper application of mind, let alone any vision. It only gives credence to the Opposition charge that the sole purpose of the announcement was to boost real estate prices in the area and personally profit from it. In fact, Shivakumar is onrecordurging the people of Kanakapura not to sell their lands yet as the prices would boom once it is merged with Bengaluru. Shivakumar is the MLA, and his brother D K Suresh the MP, of the Kanakapura constituency, and the family owns large tracts of land in and around it. Any move to arbitrarily merge Kanakapura with Bengaluru without conducting a study on its administrative feasibility and repercussions but solely for the purpose of raising land rates is unacceptable. Criticised for proposing the idea, Shivakumar has doubled down on it with the even more fantastic idea that the entire Ramanagara district should be part of Bengaluru. It is not clear if his plan is to merge Kanakapura with Bengaluru (Urban) district or into BBMP jurisdiction. All of this runs contrary to the government’s current thinking on Bengaluru’s governance, which is to split the BBMP area into smaller municipalities to make them more manageable. BBMP has proved inept at managing the affairs of the city, and any move to expand its jurisdiction will be disastrous.

In the past, too, there have been suggestions to merge neighbouring towns like Ramanagara with Bengaluru to expand the area for potential investments. These ideas did not take off due to the obvious fallacies in them. Rather there is merit in developing towns such as Ramanagara, Mandya, Kanakapura, Kolar, Chikkaballapura and Tumakuru as countermagnets to Bengaluru to reduce the stress on a city that’s already crumbling under its own weight.

Civic bodies in Bengaluru continue to rely on a 1990s’ Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) that was last revised in 2015. This explains the haphazard and unplanned growth of the city, especially new extensions on its periphery, which have no piped water, decent roads or any civic amenities. The draft CDP (2023) remains in suspended animation for various reasons. Bengaluru is bound to grow organically in all directions whether or not the government approves of it. It is important to evolve a CDP to cover not just the city but also adjoining districts for orderly and planned development. Self-aggrandising ideas such as Shivakumar’s must be binned. Had he brought up the matter of merging Kanakapura with Bengaluru before the cabinet before announcing it in public? Has the government consulted the people of Bengaluru and Kanakapura on it?

(Published 25 October 2023, 19:05 IST)

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