Will BBMP Takeover Spell Doom For Bangalore’s Electronic City?

Home to India’s top tech firms, the success of Bengaluru’s Electronic city (E-City) is something to be envied. And credit goes to the Electronic City Township Authority (ELCITA) which is governed by a 10-member council, most of whom are members of the various organisations within E-city. But worries are growing about the area’s future as Bengaluru’s civic body – the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) attempts to take over the region’s administration.

BBMP Tries to Cash In On E-City’s Revenues
The cash strapped BBMP has been eyeing E-City’s revenues for a while now. After all, the region generates an income of about Rs 15 Crores every month, paying only about Rs 4 to Rs 5 Crores as property tax to the local panchayat. Sources say the BBMP expects to boost these revenues to the hundreds of crores once it gets hold of all the additional income ELCITA generates through the collection of fees for CISF deployment, maintenance of sewage treatment plants and other utility and service charges.

But to do that, the BBMP will need to deal with the extra pressure that taking over E-City will bring in. “BBMP has more than 800 sq. kilometers under its overview which is a large area, and they are grappling with lot of issues like waste management, traffic woes, road issues and badly-maintained footpaths. I don’t think they (BBMP) will be able to give as much attention to electronic city as we are giving”, says Rama NS, CEO of ELCITA.

Govt VS Industry Body: Can the BBMP Cope?
Real estate experts too feel handing over control to the BBMP will do more harm than good. “BBMP will be looking at increasing the cost of maintenance and hiking property taxes, which is why they want to gain control. But when it comes to maintenance, BBMP should focus on what they already have before they actually get into Electronic City phase 1 & 2. It is more important for people to know what value addition the BBMP will bring in”, says Ram Chandani, MD of Transaction Services at CBRE.

Given the BBMP’s past track record with the rest of the city, people working in E-City are not looking forward to the transition. Many professionals are worried that traffic jams & snarls seen in other IT Hubs like Whitefield and ORR will soon be seen in E-City too. Even Industries Minister RV Deshpande – who was instrumental in giving E-City its township status – is against the move. “BBMP is unable to maintain roads in the rest of the city, let alone managing this entire area. It will be a very difficult task for them; they should not intervene in this at all” says Deshpande.

BBMP Takeover: What’s in store?
As things stand, the BBMP has a tough task ahead. A takeover would mean delivering on additional responsibilities like a model solid waste management system, e-toilets, maintenance of a sewage treatment plant and other such urban development resources which are unavailable in other BBMP-controlled areas of Bengaluru. Will the Civic agency be able to deliver? Or will the Electronic City too meet the same fate as the rest of Bengaluru? Only time will tell.

Stacy Pereira, Reporter, NDTV

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