Tender SURE roads come under fire
- K. V. Aditya Bharadwaj
- Chitra V. Ramani
Tender SURE (Specifications for Urban Road Execution), which was initially hailed as a liberator from intermittent road repair works, is now being criticised for not being transparent and for taking decisions in an undemocratic way.
The project is now under scrutiny as it has not just compounded the already severe traffic mess in the city by shrinking the carriageway on the roads being developed, but also for sidelining civic agencies.
Though the project is being implemented by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the civic agency was not consulted when it was envisaged by the Bangalore City Connect Foundation (BCCF), it is learnt. The project consultants are Jana Urban Space Foundation (JUSF).
With the work progressing slowly, the traffic congestion on these roads has increased. The design of the roads under Tender SURE was done with the pedestrian as the main focus, said V. Ravichandar from BCCF, who defended the wide footpaths.
“Tender SURE is a futuristic project that is capital intensive and low on maintenance. We have to consider walking as the most basic form of transport. Unless we de-incentivise use of private transport, the city will never come out of the traffic mess,” he maintained.
Questions are also being raised on the expertise and competence of the project designers. Repeated attempts to reach consultants from JUSF went in vain.
Though the BBMP is responsible for the maintenance of all roads in the city, some see the development of roads under Tender SURE as a means to bring in privatisation in road construction. An independent researcher working in urban governance pointed out that road development under the project was an expensive affair for the cash-strapped BBMP.
Jayamahal councillor M.K. Gunashekar lamented that the project was not placed before the BBMP council after being cleared by the Standing Committee for Major Works. He said that as per the Bangalore Development Authority’s Master Plan 2015, Cunningham Road was slated for widening. “How can this project overrule the Master Plan 2015? Inputs from BBMP engineers were ignored,” he charged.
Though a senior BBMP official conceded that their suggestions and inputs were not considered, Commissioner M. Lakshminarayan maintained that the project was finalised after deliberations with experts and was whetted by the government and Cabinet.
Wonder what will happen to Ms. Swati Ramanathan’s posturing and swagger now? Continue same as before? She has ‘serious’ doubts about people who ask her questions and then she says go ask any questions to the government. So she takes government funds and then makes a mess of public roads and has the audacity to refuse to answer questions. This is what we get for asking private money launderers to provide public services. See her arrogant emails below
——– Forwarded message ———-
From: Swati Ramanathan <email@example.com>
Date: Thu, May 22, 2014 at 10:09 AM
Subject: Re: Regarding TenderSure Project
To: Meena Artwani <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Questions and investigations are always welcome, and part of a functioning democracy.
I have had a look at your list. All of them are on due process of government functioning.
The right entity to ask these of, is government – state which scrutinised and authorised the project in Assembly, BMMP Commissioner who is the implementing authority.
I am providing design engagement – functionality, design usability, standards, technical challenges – and am on the technical committee.
All of the design intent is communicated prominently and is in the public domain.
Community platforms have been created where information and project updates are provided.
If you have further questions on the design and technical front, that are not provided already, I am happy to respond.
Please consider this my formal response
Committed to fixing India’s Cities
Janaagraha Center for Citizenship & Democracy – urban governance and participation
Jana Urban Space Foundation – urban planning & design
Janalakshmi – urban financial inclusion
Janaadhar – urban affordable housing
Jana Foundation – systemic urban change
On Thu, May 22, 2014 at 12:04 AM, Swati Ramanathan <email@example.com> wrote:
All information on both me and the tender sure project, is very much in the public domain as you have said.For anything further, you are talking to everybody in government who is in the best position to give you what you seek.However, I have serious doubts about your credentials and motives – you are unwilling to answer any of the questions I have raised of you about who you are, your work, motivation, who you are collaborating with when you say “we”. Saying you are a tax paying citizen and demanding answers from me is not going to work I’m afraid.
On Wed, May 21, 2014 at 11:27 PM, Swati Ramanathan <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Since this is a government project, your questions are best answered by them.
All the best with your book
Committed to fixing India’s Cities
M.K. Gunashekar, Jayamahal councillor, has said transparency is lacking in the implementation of Tender SURE (Specifications for Urban Road Execution) project under which Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is upgrading a few arterial roads, including Cunningham Road, Vittal Mallya Road and St. Mark’s Road.
According to him, the detailed project reports (DPR) were “unscientific”, and that the Indian Road Congress norms had been violated.
Responding to the allegations, BBMP Commissioner M. Lakshminarayana said that the empowered committee headed by the Additional Chief Secretary had approved the DPR. He also admitted that when the lapses in the project were pointed out, the empowered committee suggested that the project should be implemented completely in the first phase. “The committee said the lapses could be corrected in the second phase of project implementation,” he added.
‘Panel said lapses could be corrected in the second phase of project implementation’