The city of Bengaluru may be synonymous with pothole-ridden roads and garbage dumped around the streets but that does not stop the authorities from spending money on beautifying only one road. It was only in 2018, that the 750 m road of Church Street at the heart of the city's central business district connecting Museum Road and Brigade Road underwent a Rs 9 crore cobblestone makeover under the TenderSURE (Specifications for Urban Roads Execution) model.
On Thursday, Karnataka Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy announced that another Rs 18.75 crore will be spent to install â€śinternational levelâ€ť LED streetlights for further beautification of the same road following a cabinet meeting. At present, for a kilometer of road, the BBMP spends Rs 6 lakh on average to install 10 street lamps along with necessary equipment such as poles, electric boards, and wirings.
The move has attracted criticism from the public. Tara Krishnaswamy, the co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru, a pan-city activist group, said itâ€™s a ridiculous amount of money to spend. â€śAre they going to gold plate Church Street with this much money? They could have lit 300 km of Bengaluruâ€™s roads with the money spent only on a single street. In a city where so many streets are dark, this is just extravagance and an elitist way of doing things for the city. This is a gross misuse of funds and no street in the city is worth Rs 18 crore to be spent on lights.â€ť
She added, â€śIf the state government does not know where to spend money, the money could have been given to BBMP where the Commissioner made an appeal that there is no money to repair dug up roads. The money could have been spent to minimize pedestrian fatalities which occur due to inadequate lighting. There are places where streetlights can be installed and will prove beneficial for women so that they are not harassed or old people do not trip and fall and get injured.â€ť
Another activist Reshma Udupi, Forum for Urban Governance and Commons, also criticized the move calling it a â€śwaste of moneyâ€ť. She said, â€śWhat is the need for spending money on lighting when already the road has adequate lights? Instead, this money can be spent on repairing roads or put lights where there is complete darkness and no sign of street lamps,â€ť she said. She added, â€śThe government should focus on overall development and not be a government for only a few select people or areas.â€ť