Friday, October 28, 2005

Public - Intelligence! Private - Ignorance?

I spent seven days in bangalore in October 2005. Those were the top seven tough traffic days i had been through in bangalore, since late 1980s, from when i was a frequent visitor to the Garden City.

For those who just hear abt Bangalore traffic condition, let me give a heads up. When bangalore started growing big in IT during late 90s, an industrial estate was established by the State of Karnataka, called as Electronics City. This place is on the HosurRoad[southeast of bangalore], 17 kms from center of Bangalore and 23 Kms from Hosur[which is in Tamilnadu state].

During early 2000s, leading IT companies, who had offices scattered in rented building all over the city, started buying plots in the ECity, building campuses and moving in. Thus the traffic of the city started flowing in unison towards the ECity. Bangalore started growing towards south and south west. Real estate prices shot up around this area.

The the offshore boom started to grow exponentially. Companies started adding in 10000s per quarter. The real estate business fell into the hands of mafia, with prices rocketing artificially. More grave was the pressure put on the city's infrastructure. Lives of non-IT folks started to become miserable. The cost of living on the whole increased exponentially.

The traffic became highly unmanageable, with every IT firm impregnating the roads with hundreds of buses to ply their employees. The roads were completely blocked with the buses cars two wheelers of the employees. The 12 Km journey from a south bangalore residential colony like B.T.M layout and Koramangala to the Electronics city, which started to be 20 mins in 2000, is now 2.5 hrs.

Earlier there were traffic bottlenecks at the junctions. The administration resorted to building flyovers at some of these places, resulting in traffice reaching the bottle neck faster, thus the whole 12 Km stretch has become a 2.5hr bumper to bumper traffic zone.

The IT firms did
1. Import, hundreds of thousands of people into the city, without proper notice to the civic bodies
2. Resulting in artificial rise in real estate, making lives of non-IT people miserable
3. Putting huge pressure on the Roads and overall Infrastructure
4. Increase in cost of living of the whole city.

The IT firms are now joining hands to blame the government for not providing infrastructure. What will the government do?? Will the government plan for 100,000 professionals, which will quadruple in a years time??. Has the Industry given clear estimates of the needs??

No, i am not siding the government. The indifference it shows is highly condemnable.

What i am trying to convey is that, even an active government would not have been able to satisfy the industry demands and the pressure it puts.

Now, i compare the whole thing to the public enterprises of the early times. Simple example of BHEL in Trichy. When the company was in its peak during 80s, the sum of salary earned by BHEL employees was more than the rest of the city.

The Township had more number of cars than the rest of the city. Had the enterprise just built the huge company and let the pressure of the employees on the Civic bodies, Trichy would have crashed in a day. Thanjavur road in Trichy would have been the Hosur Road of Bangalore. Real estate prices and cost of living would have ensured that, all non bhelites would have to vacate the city.

For that matter, every public sector enterprise[Trichy itself has OFT, HAPP, Railway GoldenRock Workshop, Bangalore has BEL,......] had the vision to build Townships of its own whose benefits were not known[atleast to me], before seeing what the IT sector has done to bangalore.

Is it because the IT managers thought that their responsibilty ends where they pay taxes. Or is it the 'Core Competency' management concept, which drove them away from doing anything other than its core business, or is it sheer indifference and selfishness towards the society??

It is high time that Government proposes, owning a township as a pre requisite to according permission for any enterprise. The Fords, Hyundais, Nokias, and other IT companies will do the same thing to Chennai, what was done to Bangalore.

The govenment has to come up with a directive before approving a project, which asks for
1. the number of employees who are to be employed in the site.
2. What are the plans for the infrastructure needs for the employees?
3. Where does it plan to accomodate them?
4. Is the enterprise looking forward to the government for raising residential colonies?
5. How much is the company going to burden the existing infrastructure?
6. What are its plans to mitigate this?

Only when these questions are put up and satisfactory answers received, should a project be approved.

But i doubt, in the mad rat race to grab investment into a state/city, any government would take this seriously. But unless these are done, a city and its infrastructure will be severly strained.


At Fri Oct 28, 11:27:00 PM CDT, Blogger Venky Krishnamoorthy said...

Infrastructure is holding up India's progess. It is not unique to b'lore

At Fri Oct 28, 11:28:00 PM CDT, Blogger thennavan said...

First time I am hearing a balanced view on this. So far I have heard only the companies side (against the govt.) and what you say makes a lot of sense. I mean the influx of these professionals has been the effect of a "human cloud-burst" on an unsuspecting city and no government can manage the "human rains of cats and dogs" within such a short span of time. Excellent analysis Tj :-)

At Sat Oct 29, 12:28:00 AM CDT, Blogger bharath said...

Wow, nice blog.
I am from BHEL Trichy, and i just understood your point of view of Trichy BHEL , great going

At Sat Oct 29, 01:27:00 AM CDT, Blogger ada-paavi!!!! said...

TJ, it firms, with their competitive mindset wont build townships. they are concerned only about Q on Q, wer is the time for townships etc?
secondly they dont want to be taxed, they pay only corporate income taxes, an abysmally small % of their revenus, they are indeed a strian on any city unless they either pay up more taxes or take come proactive initiative

At Sat Oct 29, 06:52:00 AM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear TJ,
Happy Diwali


At Sat Oct 29, 07:59:00 AM CDT, Anonymous Vinayak said...

Murthy Companyla irundhundu...Gowda va support panriyeeda....Nyaayama...;)))

Jokes apart, soaka sonna...

Ungala madhiri responsible zitigens ellam, eppodhum kadal kadandhu irundha....eppadida indha valuable suggestions ellam Dharm singha poi Serum?


At Sat Oct 29, 11:32:00 AM CDT, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

TJ - less tension - More work - Very good post ( that means I havent read it properly :)) ) - will read it soon!


At Sat Oct 29, 12:24:00 PM CDT, Blogger sen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Sat Oct 29, 12:37:00 PM CDT, Blogger sen said...

1)Iam a entreupruner,trying to set up a software company by buying loans from a venture capitalist.Do i have to start building a township first?, than looking at my core competency??.

2)IN a free market you have to competetive, china is growing, china is doing 10% growth rate etc etc. if you have to catch up with them u have to learn something from them also.

3)What is the standard road size that the goverment is approaving a single lane.why is that mind set still not changed.we are still approaving residential and buisness operations without parking facilities and single roads.still having problem removing the road side shops and encaroachments.still letting both bicycle and race cars in the same roads.

4)There are always solutions, the govt is just not delhi and lot of forieng counttires schools, govt offices, and private offices operate in different times to lessen the traffic burden, iam not sure whether that is the case in bangalore,chennai.

I think it is a simple case of govt not talking traffic as a serious problem, that's all

At Sun Oct 30, 04:55:00 AM CST, Blogger Random Access said...

A very valid argument, but at the end of the day, it aint a single reason. The Karnataka govt was the one who wanted to establish the IT park in the first place, and so the civic bodies should have got an estimate before building the infrastructure. However, the companies are also to blame for making it too much of a hassle for the govt. I dont think anyone expected in 2000 for these many employees. Traffic congestion is not unique to blore, and I would love to hear solutions rather than problems.

Random Access
The search has just begun !!!

At Sun Oct 30, 06:54:00 PM CST, Blogger TJ said...

You are right! Infrastructure is holding up india's progress, but the issue with bangalore is that, the infrastructure has not scaled and artificial pressue has been created on it, which could have easily been easy with a bit of planning.

Thanks. Yes, i was able to appreciate the vision of the public sector enterprises, only after looking what these new economy enterprises have done to Bangalore.

I used to cross BHEL daily on my way to college [RECT], and was awestuck with the traffic management, such that, the whole of the Township traffic cross the rest of the world only at the following junctions, at the TrainingCentre, Shopping Center, Ganesa and Bhelec junctions, and no where else.

At Sun Oct 30, 07:12:00 PM CST, Blogger TJ said...

Nice point. The impact of IT companies on a non-IT bangalorean is really pitiable. He would have been so much more well off, had the IT companies not come to his city.

Wishing you a very happy deepavali as well!!

:) Murthy company or Gowda siding matter illa machche. The intension aap dhis post ees,
1. What are the learning from the bangalore mess
2. How did the planning and knowledge of the public sector folks were grossly underestimated, and learnings not followed.
3. Responsibilities of civic bodies and corporates together.

Thalaiva, very good post! appadenu nee sonnale podhum, matter ennanu engalukku purinjurum :P

At Sun Oct 30, 07:20:00 PM CST, Blogger TJ said...

First, when u r venture capitalist enterpreuner, then the accroding to this post, the Civic body shud ask you, where are you going to put your office, and what is the approx number or employees commuting to your office. If the infrastructure is not able to accomodate it, permission has to be denied right then w.r.t that location, or the Civic body has to develop Townships, paralelly along with Industrial parks.

Next, All the valid issues raised by you, like lane width, encroachments, not staggering working time across institutions are very much accepted. But the point is that you do all these in bangalore today, and the traffice eases from 2.5 hrs to 1 hr, in a day. But, in one year from now, when the IT companies have added 100,000 more people on the roads, you will have no more encroachments to remove and no more roads to widen. You hit the 2.5 hrs mark again.

As i replied to Vinayak, this post is to highlight the failure to follow the public sector/township model. Even in bangalore, BEL, HAL have implemented it successfully. ITI in bangalore had failed doing this, much before the ITI companies. The ITI factory buses were the first to choke the roads, much before the IT boom.

At Sun Oct 30, 07:31:00 PM CST, Blogger TJ said...

Point accepted. But equating the Bangalore phenomenon to Traffic congestion anywhere else is according to me is infact a crime.

Bangalore is a unique phenomena, which is caused by unimaginable increase in traffic thanks to IT firms. Though the general reasons for traffic jams, applicable to any other city is valid here, there are much more grave reasons, resulting from lack of planning and participation from Civic bodies and the Government.

When u say, you want solutions, and if you apply general traffic solution, congestion, then you are going to land in a miserable failure, as it has happend with respect to the Flyovers in Bangalore. Everywhere else they would have eased traffice. Here, they are not effective at all even 1%.

Though currently a lot of solutions like metro rail, elevated highway are being talked abt. Paralelly a huge effort will have to be put in what i had suggested. This is the only way to make sure, whatever solutions we put in place today, is not made irrelevante in an year's time.

I repeat, the responsiblity of the government of Karnataka, is as much as any other civic body today in the world. But the responsiblities of the industry are different than the general public of other cities. It should have followed the public sector model, or atleast provided the Civicbodies with enough input data to act.

At Sun Oct 30, 08:13:00 PM CST, Blogger Ram.C said...

Eventhough joint co-operation is required between those who are setting up the shop and the Govt., the ownership should lie with Govt only.

If ownership is missing, the companies cannot take the blame completely.. when so many neighbouring countries like Philiphines are ready to offer services for those MNCs.

Due to this issue, even some of the INdian companies have also moved their factory work to you should be aware.

At Mon Oct 31, 03:26:00 AM CST, Blogger Chakra Sampath said...

periyavaa nalla nalla vishayangal ellam sindhichchu solli irukael. unga alavukku karuthu solla enakku anubavam poraadhu.. thappa nenaikalenaa, sila vishayangal impractical aa irukumo nu thondradhu. adhiga prasangi thanama edavadhu pesi irundha periyavaa mannikanum.

At Mon Oct 31, 09:58:00 AM CST, Blogger Ganesh said...

agree with you on this TJ
For change much balanced view.

At Tue Nov 01, 02:42:00 PM CST, Blogger RS said...

An informative post! I keep hearing these scary stories about Bangalore, I guess my dreams of settling down in Blore are pretty much out of the window now :)

At Tue Nov 01, 03:43:00 PM CST, Blogger thennavan said...

Happy Deepavali Tj :-)

At Tue Nov 01, 03:57:00 PM CST, Blogger Muthukumar Puranam said...

NIce one TJ. thought provoking.

At Tue Nov 01, 08:40:00 PM CST, Blogger TJ said...

What you say is very true. The bottomline is obviously the government's. The GMent need to plan and regulate the whole thing. But this cannot be done unless the enterprises provide inputs. As i suggested, Government should demand data from the firms, and then develop infrastructure based on that.

Aaha, adiyen aedho, thoninadha kirukki irukkein, neenga periyavaa.
Aamam, konjam impracticala dhaan irukkum. Aana, idhai enforce panninal ozhiya, plan panna mudiyadhu, development without cramping achive panna mudiyadhu.

For example, one of the IT leaders have a campus in bangalore with 45 buildings. They could have put 25 buildings are offices and the rest 20 as a township.That would have taken 100 buses and thousands of cars off the roads.

They could have built the other 20 building elsewhere with 20 buildings of township to support it. Infact they site on a huge pile of cash reserves. They can afford to do it.

Thanks sir. Yes, a balanced view is lacking in the MSM.

Planning ot settle in Bangalore?? Throw those into the deep sea. :)

Thanks very much for the diwali wishes. Wishing you a great diwali as well.

Thanks very much man, for visiting!

At Wed Nov 02, 08:01:00 AM CST, Anonymous Raghu said...

Excellent article. I am getting addicted to your posts dude.
Sen has a point too. You cant blame a company/entrepreneur for not setting up a township when it is not required by the law. Then, it is the government's responsibility to notice the changing trends and enact laws that make things better (or stop things becoming worse). Neither the Karnataka govt nor the BMC did that!
Of course, I am not absolving the IT industry altogether. The easy loans and high disposable incomes have added more than a lakh vehicles in the last 2 years.
All in all, it is not an easy problem that can be solved by doing steps a, b and c. This needs a lot of commited leaders and visionaries (both in govt and industry) and some very strong actions (which could tick off people and hence the need for strong leaders).
Till then... happy blogging to you... and happy reading to me.

At Thu Nov 03, 06:57:00 AM CST, Blogger Prabu Karthik said...


i think i will have to agree with yr views on the Non-IT people's plight.

but BHEL model? hmm.
for starters, BHEL was established when the times were like a phone connection for a pub. sector official was more in priority than a phone connection for infy.(read this in NRN's interview)

BHEL project complete panna evlo naal achu? what was the expenditure? whose money was that?

when companies need human resources like y'day and if we ask them to build infrastructure or ask to give estimates about HR additions beforehand for the next 6 months so that the corporations and municpalities of our great India will build.... well... seri vidunga.

neengalum proj manager delivery head aganum... seekirame.. nangalum parkanum...

but what you say about Chennai's pospects in infrastructure nightmare is true.

I've personally seen traffic jams taking hrs to clear in IT highway in Sholinganallur, a good 20 km from the chennai city.

i dont have a solution to write about now. maybe there can be a cap on the offices that can come up in a single road. (E-city in bangalore and IT highway in chennai) and let the development spread to other areas of the city.

not sure of this is a valid point.

enga thalai chakra ve unga kite rombo adakki vasikaraar. namakku yen veen vambu...

At Thu Nov 10, 01:58:00 PM CST, Blogger Paavai said...

Brilliant suggestion - hope someone pays heed to this. Any organization that concentrated only on stock market without a vision cannot be successful


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