On August 15th, a debate was held between four candidates from four parties all campaigning to represent Varthur. The audience expressed much concern about Varthur Lake and services for locals. The candidates were also asked about procuring funding and providing services such as clean water.
- BJP: Pushpa Manjunath
- Congress : Nisha S Vasu
- JDS: Chamudeshwari
- BSP: Chandrakala
Venue: SDV Mini Party Hall, Near Varthur Government Middle School
Mediators: Sridhar Pabbisetty (SP) and Prakash Belawadi (PB)
Prakash Belawadi summarised the state of affairs within BBMP and the city. He set the context for questions in the first session:
BBMP is indebted to contractors, many haven't been paid for the work done in the last 2-3 years, BBMP owes them about 2-3 crores. We are forced to go to the state and central government for funds.
Authorities and responsibilities are not clear. Nobody can be held accountable or responsible. MP and MLAs point us to corporators but a corporator has no powers.
Budget expenses are not transparent. Why is a ward allocated a certain budget? How is it spent? Is there public consent to projects undertaken? We are unsure who to approach with these questions.
Too many vehicles on the road. How much more can we widen roads? Where will people walk if we continue to widen them? Increase in number of accidents, pollution.
- We need to constantly question leaders/people in power and that's the only way there will improvement and changes will happen.
How was Bangalore? What has become of it? What are the problems? How does it concern your ward and how will you resolve these issues?
BJP: I have visited every area in the ward. Water is biggest problem. Sewage and bad roads are also major complaints from the public. People only want these three issues fixed. If I win, I will give importance to ensuring drinking water for the people.
(PB to INC) Five years Congress has had no presence in BBMP, it was under BJP rule. But overall control is in Congress hands' (Chief Minister). According to the manifesto released by Congress, 18 crores is allocated for signal free corridor. Development of 297 slums by provide basic amenities and facilities. How is the manifesto relevant to your ward? What works can be completed within your ward?
INC: We will try and complete as many of the projects our manifestos reads. Biggest problem that exists is drinking water problem, this will be addressed if Mekedatu project is successful. Whether or not we win we will see Mekedatu to completion.
[PB's comment: We have taken max water from cauvery. It's a debate since Wodeyar's times. 48% leaks. And fix for a few years by laying steel pipes which would cost us 26000 crores.]
JDS: Population increase has lead to price rise in rice and real estate. Poor people have remained poor. We will do good for the ward and then we will focus towards progress of Bangalore. The ward comes first.
BSP: There are issues across all sectors: roads, toilets, water. We will try to do as much to address as many of these issues.
The party in power in state changes ward reservation in a way that makes many candidates ineligible. What will you do if you are not able to contest again due to the reservation matrix? How will you stay connected to voters?
BJP: We can't blame population increase. It is our responsibility to provide facilities to people coming from outside. Inflow of population is high but we should ensure facilities are made available to them.
INC: With increase in population it is becoming difficult to provide basic amenities, but we are trying and we will do our best. (PB's comment: Bangalore generates 67% revenue for the state.)
JDS: RWH can resolve water issue. Footpath needs to be fixed. Separate lanes and signals for speeding vehicles. Houses need to be renovated, basic amenities in our area are amiss. No trees in our area, we need to grow trees. Farmers need support. Bangalore holds 6th place in being a clean city, we need to get it back to being the cleanest.
BSP: We cannot make Bangalore a clean city but we will work towards maintaining and cleaning up our ward. Toilets need to become usable, and drainage cleaned up.
Name 5 changes that you will make or 5 issues you will address.
- Water problem
- Street lights
- Lake development
- Bus shelters are necessary and important
- Water problem
- Street lights
- Varthur to Panthur: There are no buses and hospital facilities in case of accidents, so this will be addressed.
- Widen Varthur road to and make walking and crossing of the road easier. Fix footpaths.
- Shops should follow waste management rules and BBMP should regularly clear waste.
- We need to plant trees for healthy environment and maintain these trees.
- Resolve drinking water problem.
- Water problem
- Ensure power supply
How will you generate/raise funds for the work, considering that BBMP has 10,000 crore loan?
BJP: We will discuss with party leaders about this.
INC: Generate funds by segregation and recycling of waste. Explore avenues within the ward to generate wards.
JDS: Reduce corruption. Veteran politicians should become more transparent about their bank accounts. Political leaders should not spend public funds for their personal use.
BSP: Whatever is possible we will do, without worrying too much about availability of funds.
A word cloud representing the complaints of citizens of Varthur
- Reuse the village drainage systems, they have been closed down and not maintained, they need to be revived.
- Need rain shelter
- Why don't the previous candidates do any development in the ward?
- Varthur surrounded by apartments and gated communities and have all facilities but the common man does not have water, borewells dry up within a year. I had 11 bores, all are dry. Underground drainage is needed, we do not have underground drainage and there are diseases due to open drainage (dengue is a major problem). Politicians say this was village panchayat, cannot closed drainage unless it comes under CMC. Now that we are under CMC, will the drainage system be upgraded?
- Varthur lake. We have enough water, we need to clean up the lake to become self-sufficient.
- How will you resolve water issues? What steps will you take? How will you clean up the lake? What is the plan?
- Authorities redirect problems to others. Nobody takes up responsibility and we don't know who to approach with problems.
- Low revenue with village pachayat, now even with increased revenue there has been no improvement. We (ward and BBMP) are only left with more loans.
- Raaja kaluve needs to be maintained and used properly.
- 220km to 800km ?. No basic amenities. (Need some help with kannada translation)
- Mandate RWH in every house. Plant trees in every site or house. How will you enforce this?
- We are cleaning our drainage without the authorities help. Why should we pay a tax?
- No affordable hospitals for poor and middle-class people.
- How will you address youth employment problem?
- Enforce RWH
How will you stop sewage from entering Varthur Lake?
JDS: Treat water to eliminate chemicals. Sewage treatment before releasing into lake. Cauvery water to Varthur.
Congress: Polluted with industrial effluents and Bangalore's sewage, need a separate pipeline to divert this. We have established water purification plant in Panthur. Another one in Varthur is on hold for post elections.
BJP: Clean up the lake with silt/weeds. Bangalore sewage water needs to be treated before releasing it into Varthur lake.
BSP: Filter before releasing into lake. Need to stop industries from releasing effluents into lake.
Audience member and local resident shared some facts and figures with the candidates about the causes for the lake to have turned toxic and continues to froth: We should approach professors and experts in IISC and systematically approach this problem. Locals and surrounding villagers should come together and stand up for the cause to clean up the lake. About 400MLD of untreated sewage water is being let into the lake from bangalore everyday. Only 100MLD of this water is treated before it is released into the lake. Varthur is downstream so overflow water from Bellandur lake also enters Varthur lake which adds to the pollutants in the lake. KSPCB is corrupt and STPs and industrial effluent plants are not being setup as per EIA rules. There are 26,000 apartment complexes and only 3000 have functional STPs.
SP: This is a very complex issue. We need support from higher ups, all MLAs and MPs across the city and state to come together and work towards reviving the lake. We wish to have a KereHabba (organised by NBF) for varthur lake pollution MLD water untreated for Varthur lake soon.
Do we need Akrama Sakrama?
All candidates said no.
Should CM retain powers, should Mayor be made powerful as well?
Should we have a directly elected Mayor?
How is BBMP going to repay the 10,000 crore loan ?
JDS: Increase tax
Congress: Increase tax
BJP: Tax on farmer produce should be increased.
How much money will Varthur ward get?
(1) How will you make the budgeting transparent and share it with public?
(2) How will you form ward committees?
JDS: Nobody shares budget allocation details and transfer of funds. [SP asks: Will you share it if you come into power?] I will. I will call for public meeting once every two months and share details about funds allocated and used. Information will be shared through ward committees by identifying a good leader and handing over the responsibility to that person.
Congress: Through RWA leaders, we will hold regular meetings to discuss funds.
BJP: Once a month meeting about funds and accounts.
BSP: We will hold regular meetings to share fund related information.
Any other issues within your ward that you have identified (apart from the issue concerning basic amenities and already discussed)?
JDS: We need to put up rain shelters and provide jobs to local residents in the companies that exist within the ward.
Congress: Make walking on the roads easy for senior citizens and create public parks.
BSP: Will take up the cause of women empowerment and create parks.
BJP: Fight child abuse and ensure child safety.
Disclaimer: This is an edited version of the minutes of the meeting sent by NBF. Citizen Matters' staff were not present during the debate.