By Express News Service
25 Jan 2009 08:22:00 AM IST
BANGALORE: BBMP Commissioner S Subramanya hit the bull’s eye two months ago when remarked that “Only god can save the city’s pedestrians.” Saturday morning provided a bitter testimony to this gruesome fact. A bit too bitter, perhaps. The badly-maintained roads and broken pavements can send a chill down anyone’s spine even without such extreme reminders.
Pedestrians are forced to enter the death zones where even motorists struggle to find space, as the space where they would have rather walked — the footpath — is almost non-existent in the city. And if they do exist, they end abruptly or are cluttered with everything except the pedestrian. During peak hours, the balancing act between road and sidewalk, can prove to be life-threatening.
While delivering a talk at Bangalore International Centre recently on urban transport planning, urban planning expert Madhav Badami pulled up the government for spending crores of rupees on the Metro Rail but not expending “a single penny” to create space for cyclists and pedestrians. He had also highlighted the fact that pedestrians did not contribute to congestion on roads nor did they benefit from motorisation “but were hugely affected adversely by both the factors.”
The city’s infrastructure development has been focused on the development of roads for motor vehicles but not for the pedestrians. Having waken up to this fact, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has constructed pedestrian subways and has proposed similar subways across the city. Apart from the pedestrian subways, the BBMP has also proposed to construct skywalks and bicycle paths on major roads, BBMP sources said. Zone-wise programmes to evacuate encroachments on footpaths and clearing of debris is in progress. The old stone slabs used for pavements are being given granite-finishing and works of renovating footpaths are under way, added sources. A study titled “Traffic and Transportation Policies and Strategies in Urban Areas in India” drives home the point that Bangalore is “pedestrian-unfriendly.”
According to M N Sreehari, chairman, Traffic Engineers and Safety Trainers, Bangalore, ranks the garden city twelfth among the 30 surveyed cities on the “walkability” index.
Bangalore has become heat island
9 Jan 2009, 0204 hrs IST, Jayashree Nandi, TNN
Bangalore : Bangalore is witnessing an alarming depletion of wetland areas and vegetation cover, according to a recent study by the Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science. It shows an increase of 1 to 1.5 degree in temperature in certain pockets of Bangalore that have seen intense urbanization.
According to lead researcher T V Ramachandra, there is almost an increase of 466% of building area or paved surface in the past three years and that is not allowing water to percolate through the soil. Of 200 tanks present in 1985, only 17 survive today, which means that the wetland area has decreased alarmingly. “The vegetation and amount of water bodies in a city have a direct relationship with local temperature. Bangalore is an urban heat island. The increase in emissions from transport, faulty architecture, lack of vegetation and wetlands are leading to these temperature changes,” he said.
However, he did not attribute the chilly mornings this winter to the same phenomenon. “I checked the records and the winter temperature is almost the same, swinging around 12 degrees. But other issues like humidity and sudden heat waves could be a reflection of the increasing temperature or global warming,” he added.
The report also points out that there has been an increase in flooding. Reclamation of lakes for various developmental activities has resulted in the loss of inter-connectivity in Bangalore district, leading to higher instances of floods even during normal rainfall.
The decline in the number of water bodies in Bangalore is mainly due to unbridled and intense urbanization. Many lakes were encroached for illegal buildings (54%). Field surveys (during July-August 2007) show that nearly 66% of lakes are sewage fed, 14% surrounded by slums and 72% showed loss of catchment area. Lake catchments were used as dumping yards for either municipal solid waste or building debris.
In one of the idiotic team-building exercises run by Western companies to foster fun and solidarity among their workers, Nokia-Siemens ran a pie-eating contest in their office in Guragon, leading to the choking death of a 22-year-old employee.
Police investigate Nokia contest death
By Mahesh Arora
A 22-year old techie, Saurab Sabharwal, employed with Nokia-Siemens Networks in Gurgaon died mysteriously while participating in a pastry-eating competition in the cafeteria of the office premises on November 19. The doctors at the Max Hospital where he was brought dead said that the pastry chocked his windpipe rendering him breathless.
The incident took place at about 1.00 in the afternoon when a number of employees of the company were participating in a pastry-eating competition in the cafeteria. Saurab, who worked as a solution engineer with the company since June this year, was also eating pastry quickly to out-compete others. All of a sudden he rushed towards the bathroom area and never came back. Coincidentally, one of the colleagues happened to visit the bathroom where he spotted Saurab lying on the floor. Saurab was rushed to Max Hospital in Sushant Lok at about 2.00 in the afternoon where the doctors tried to revive him, but to no avail.
RK Sabharwal charged the company officials for negligence saying that they should have arranged for medical experts during the pastry-eating competition which otherwise should not have been organized at all. He said that no one bothered to take care of his son whose windpipe had got chocked during the event. Such competition should not be held at all, he contended. The distraught father submitted a written compliant with the police officials demanding investigation into the case. Dr. S Sharma, the medical advisor at Max Hospital, also said that such events of pastry-eating competitions should be avoided in general.
However, the police officials said that the action against the officials of Nokia-Siemens would be decided only after the receipt of the post-mortem report of Saurab’s body. Saurab lived in Patparganj in New Delhi and his father RK Sabharwal worked with a public sector bank Punjab National Bank in Delhi. Nokia-Siemens Networks has its corporate office in Cybergreens, DLF Cybercity but has one subsidiary in Udyog Vihar where Saurab was employed as solution engineer.
The company officials who were present at Max Hospital refused to comment on the incident.
A news story says President-Elect Barack Obama has a posse in Bangalore, where tech industry workers recognize his pro-globalization stance.
It seems to happen all the time in Bangalore: A bus accidentally kills or injures a passer-by, and an angry mob materializes and sets the bus on fire.
Contrast this with recent incidents in San Francisco:
In none of these cases did an angry mob materialize nor were transit vehicles attacked. When I was in Bangalore last year I asked a couple of people about this phenomenon, and of the riots that take place from time to time. He replied that there were simply a lot of dissatisfied poor people who are easily stirred up by troublemakers and provocateurs. I don’t have much trouble understanding about the angry poor people, and I can even see the troublemakers — thugs associated, perhaps, with a local politician, institution or crime-lord, people for whom literal rabble-rousing is part of their job description. Even in the US we have politicians and community figures in every city who can get a gang of people to a public hearing or demonstration without much trouble. But one thing they don’t do is attack transit vehicles.
An American startup is paying people in India to sign up for its service so it can show it has 1000s of users.
I loved all the different cultural elements in the picture contained in this post — Xmas trees, a man in a Santa hat, what look like piñatas — all at a “bangle store” in Bangalore.
Associated Press, 26 Dec 2007
NEW DELHI – The job came with a good salary, and good perks.
But, 26-year-old Vaibhav Vats will tell you, it was doing him no good. His weight had grown to 265 pounds and he was missing out on social life as he worked long overnight hours at a call center. Eventually, he quit.
“You are making nice money. But the tradeoff is also big,” said Vats, who spent nearly two years at IBM Corp.’s call center arm in India, answering customer calls from the United States.
Call centers and other outsourced businesses such as software writing, medical transcription and back-office work employ more than 1.6 million young men and women in India, mostly in their 20s and 30s, who make much more than their contemporaries in most other professions.
They are, however, facing sleep disorders, heart disease, depression and family discord, according to doctors and several industry surveys.
Experts warn the brewing crisis could undermine the success of India’s hugely profitable outsourcing industry that earns billions in dollars annually and has shaped much of the country’s transformation into an emerging economic power.
Heart disease, strokes and diabetes cost India an estimated $9 billion in lost productivity in 2005. But the losses could grow to a staggering $200 billion over the next 10 years if corrective action is not taken quickly, said a study by New Delhi-based Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations.
industry would be hardest hit, it warned.
Reliable estimates on the number of people affected are hard to come by, but government officials and experts agree that it is a growing problem. Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss wants to enforce a special health policy for employees in the information technology industry.
“After working, they party for the rest of the time … (They) have bad diet, excessive smoking and drinking,” he said at a public meeting last month. “We don’t want these young people to burn out.”
The minister’s comments have since infuriated the technology sector, which says it has been unfairly singled out for problems that also exist in other professions.
The outsourcing industry has come under fire because the sedentary lifestyle of its employees combined with often stressful working conditions makes them more vulnerable to heart disease, digestive problems and weight gain than others. Some complain of psychological distress.
Most call center jobs involve responding to phone calls through the night from customers in the United States and Europe – some of whom can be angry and rude. It is monotonous and there is little meaningful personal interaction among co-workers. That can also be true of other jobs such as software writing and back-office work.
“There are times when the stress is so overwhelming that they fail to cope with it. Then they come to us,” said Archana Bisht who set up a counseling company, 1to1help.net, in Bangalore six years ago.
Her clientele has since grown to 25 companies – seven of them were added in the past two months – including such names as Intel Corp., IBM Corp., Hewlett Packard Co. and Mindtree Consulting Ltd.
Each day, about 60 to 70 employees at these companies seek counseling from 1to1help.net. The complaints are many, but marital incompatibility and relationship issues top the list, Bisht said, often because the long, odd working hours means couples don’t have much time together.
More women than men ask for help, she said. The outsourcing boom has created new employment opportunities for Indian women, but there has been little change in social expectations. Adding workplace demands to responsibilities at home, which often includes taking care of in-laws, leaves women workers with multiple stresses, Bisht said.
Loneliness can also take a toll.
“There is no social life,” said Vats, who worked at night and either slept or watched television during the day. “You are not meeting new people.”
The industry is getting sensitive to these problems.
The National Association of Software Services Companies, the main trade body of the outsourcing industry, said many of its member firms are already providing facilities like advice on health, gyms and money for regular checkups.
Companies like Infosys Technologies Ltd. have set up 24-hour helplines for counseling by psychologists, while others have tied up with companies like 1to1help.net. Some like HCL Technologies Ltd. have built daycare centers for children and routinely sponsor group outings by their employees.
But the industry insists it would do nothing to impose any lifestyle on its employees.
“We do not think it is for companies or for the government to interfere in the personal life of adult Indians,” NASSCOM said in a statement.
Also, there is little it can do to change the nighttime work hours of many outsourcing jobs.
“The odd hours can play havoc with your health,” said Vats. “I never got good sleep because everyone was up and getting ready to go to work when I got home … Your diet goes for a toss. You get acidity, develop gastric problems.”
Vats’ weight has dropped to 214 pounds since leaving IBM Daksh two years ago. He’s still overweight for his 5 feet 9 inch frame, but is much happier now working with a law firm for a much lower salary.
A recent survey by Dataquest magazine and technology consulting company IDC showed sleep disorders topped health complaints among outsourcing industry workers.
About 32 percent of respondents complained of sleep disorders; 25 percent had digestive troubles; and 20 percent reported eyesight problems, said the survey, which covered 1,749 employees at 19 outsourcing companies.
Yet, they would not talk about it openly. Several call center employees contacted by the Associated Press admitted to having many of these ailments, but they refused to be named or identify their employer.
Sleep and digestive disorders, doctors say, can grow into bigger problems: hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases.
Doctors say the rise in these diseases, alongside growing urbanization and fast-paced economic growth, is not surprising.
But India’s case is alarming because of the sheer number of people affected and the factors that make them vulnerable to these diseases, said Ravi Kasliwal, a cardiologist at New Delhi’s Indraprastha Apollo Hospital. These include India’s fat-rich diet, genetic factors make them highly vulnerable to diabetes, and abdominal obesity that gives rise to insulin resistance and heart disease.
“To top it all, there is lack of awareness,” Kasliwal said. “One out of 10 persons aged 35 years or more in this country is prone to heart attack.”
Heart disease is projected to account for 35 percent of deaths among India’s working age population between 2000 and 2030, Kasliwal said, citing a World Health Organization study. That number is about 12 percent for the United States, 22 percent for China and 25 percent for Russia.
“This is a very serious issue for this country,” Kasliwal said. “But nobody wants to talk about it.”
Flooding after rains (see the article from September, for example) has been a chronic problem in Bangalore for years. If they have really fixed it, it will be quite an achievement.
The Hindu, 24 Dec 2007
BANGALORE: It is likely that the city will not face any major instances of flooding during the next spell of rains, said S. Subramanya, Commissioner, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), here on Saturday.
Work was on at the 11 vulnerable spots in the city to prevent flooding in the event of rain, he said at an interaction programme organised by the Bangalore Reporters’ Guild. The Central Silk Board area, Puttenahalli, Arakere, Nayandanahalli, Katriguppe, Illyas Nagar, Bhadrappa Layout, S.T. Bed Layout, Kamakhya Layout, Hennur, Ejipura and Bandappa Colony were the vulnerable spots, he said.
On providing infrastructure to new areas under the BBMP, Dr. Subramanya said that all main roads in these areas would be asphalted.
The complete black-top asphalting work would cost the BBMP about Rs. 1,800 crore.
On BBMP’s finances, he said the “basket of funds” with it had not dried up and loans would be taken only if it was necessary. “We have a line of credit of up to Rs. 200 crore ready,” Dr. Subramanya said.
Stating that road-widening was necessary for better traffic management, he said that Bellary Road, Race Course Road, Hosur-Lashkar Road and Jayamahal Road would be widened this year.
Partial work on Palace Road, Seshadri Road and Kasturba Road would be taken up, he added.
Bangalore: Stay away from Outskirts this Christmas, Alert Cops
Bangalore, Dec 20: Stay away from hotels or resorts in the outskirts of the city, especially during Christmas and New Year’s eve, warn the police, keeping in mind the rise in number of accidents during nights.
Police officials claim that at least 70 per cent of accidents at night involve teenagers, who head to the outskirts after a party at break-neck speeds.
“College students, IT professionals, BPO and call centre employees, who usually go for long drives in the night towards outskirts, should avoid doing so,” said a senior police official from Bangalore Rural.
During the Christmas season, youth will be on a party spree and have a tendency to head out, though in groups. “We have seen children meeting with accidents,” the officer said.
Apart from accidents, they can be mugged, and even attacked by miscreants. Take for instance, the National Law School (NLS) student who was stabbed to death in Gnanabharati after he got into a brawl with a gang of six unknown men.
“Most of the students are from reputed engineering and medical colleges. About 50 cars are seen at coffee shops in Ramanagaram and Channapatna on weekends,” said a police official from Ramanagaram.
He also said that 2007 witnessed the maximum number of accidents involving youth, with over five accidents being reported every two months. Most of them drive to the outskirts after midnight and maximum accidents take place between 1 am and 4 am, said the officer.
“The usual speed limit on those highways is about 75 km/hr, but youngsters drive at 120 km/hr. Most of them ram into electric poles and road medians,” said he added.
The latest accident occurred on December 4 this year, when a Srilankan national Gayana died on the spot after the Maruti Swift she and her friends were travelling in rammed into a road median at 1 am in Channapatna.
Dos & don’ts
Avoid eating at dhabas and restaurants on the outskirts, especially Nelamangala, Devanahalli, Ramanagaram and Channapatna at late night
Avoid going for long drives and halting at coffee shops on the outskirts
Move in groups and carry self defence items
Inform elders when venturing outskirts and do not resort to drunken driving.
Major accidents in 2007
In March 2007, two teenagers were killed, when their car rammed into an electric pole in Ramanagaram.
In April 2007, a Skoda car rams into electric pole at 3.15 am, two killed, three injured near Channapatna.
In May 2007, two teenagers were killed, while three others injured, after their car rammed into a stationary lorry in Chikkajala.
In June 2007, a software engineer died on the spot after his Getz car rammed into a police barricade in Channapatna at 2.30 am.
In July, 2007, four youths, including two call girls were killed on the spot after their Verna car rammed into an electric pole in Ramanagaram
In November 2007, a NLS student was stabbed to death in Gnanabharati by unknown people.
Accident cases reported
500 in 2004, 452 in 2005 1,324 in 2006.
I will reprint this charming tale as is, from this forum page on Assam.net. The only change I have made to the text was to insert a few spaces.
I did averted a major tragedy today at Bangalore, at 1300 hrs on 15 Dec 2007. This saved 5 lives from the probable hands of some gang to rob in motive of finally being killed at unknown destination.
At 1230 hrs today, I was driving my scooter at Old Madras Road,Bangalore. I noticed few passengers having argument with a Toyota Qualis driver and the driver is talking over his mobile phone. While I did approached the passengers supposed to be well to do with big bags,one young man came and asked me the distance from that place to the Bangalore Airport. There was 2 ladies, two young man and an old man. Later 2 were doctors- as told. On his question I had doubt. I could hear the driver saying “pay for 40 km. “. (The actual distance is 5 km) Then I did asked the passengers who were looking like coming from some other place by air and being Hindi speaking people. I did introduced about me and then they told me as doctors from Delhi and just hired this Toyota Qualis bearing Regn No. KA05-C 5924.
They came to Bangalore for sight seeing and hired this vehicle for 3 days. One of their friend did arranged this. So they boarded in this from airport at 1030 hrs and till 1230 hrs they were driving around airport and Indiranagar area through narrow lanes. They was to go to Majestic area to a Jain Temple for lunch and prayer. All was hungry. Airport to Majestic area is 14 km. Already the driver drove them 40 km. With doubt not reaching destination for 2 hours, they was arguing with the driver. At the God’s grace, same time I was there and got the details. Since all the people are Hindi speaking, being from the north India, the driver had diferent motive. He was reluctant to listen me and was demanding more advance money. His bad luck struck. he never knew a real Comando standing in front of him and I am well versed with police!
Meanwhile few days ago, a lone women from Delhi landed at Bangalore airport and subsequently drove to diferent places and was being raped by lot many for 3-4 days.
My alert mind, being an Citizen and former military Commando, I smell some foul. These family wanted to go in and around famous Shravanabelgola, which is 145 km from Bangalore. And insted of driving via main Airport Rd,driving via Old Madras road made me to be more conscious. I immediately felt that these people might be taken for ransom and finally be killed away from city. Since the driver was also too busy to mobile talks with someone. he was least bothered to answer me in local language. Immediately I rushed up to the very close Indiranagar Police station and met the duty Sub Inspector. He is a dynamic young officer and responded me immediately. He too did agreed at my narrations and questioned the driver. The driver failed to reply lot. He told that his driving licence is in the vehicle (Wanted to run away), then the police SI nabbed his mobile and sent one constable to the vehicle. The document were not there and no DL that the driver had to show his identity or authority to drive. Immediately he was charged by the officer and we was asked to leave by arrranging some auto to them for resting and lunch at Kamath Yatrinivas, near Majestic.
The cab driver menace is alarming and growing day by day. They generally now a days target airport passengers who are outsiders. They take for a god ride in the name of avoiding bad traffic and convince the passengers and drive elsewhere while the passenger fatigued with hunger and strain. then they will mix up tranquilizers with fod or drinks and either rob or kill. Simple motive.
It was lucky that I had an appointment with a person at the same place. I did missed the apppointment as time was over with the incident. But I am happy being a Bangalorean and former Air force commando to utilize my third mind to save the life of 5 innocent civilians who had come all the way from Delhi to visit lovely Bangalore. They , otherwise would have lost all in someones land including lives!!
I feel little alet mind by all will help to prevent such happenings.
I would love to make such example public through your media, so that people wil come up and help Police.
Dr. Bikash Kumar Das
Five killed, 18 injured as building collapses
Bangalore, (PTI): Five persons were killed and 18 injured when an old building at Nehrupura in Bharathi Nagar area in the city collapsed Tuesday night, police said.
The collapse was triggered after a large number of people gathered at a flat in the second floor of the building for a function, DCP (East), B K Singh, told PTI.
The building belonged to the city corporation, he said.
The injured have been hospitalised.