Hale kallu, hosa billu syndrome

BBMP likes to create regular, small contracts. This system is informally known as ‘hale kallu, hosa billu’, and is well understood by all the stakeholders !!

Take the example of shoulder drains. To begin with, it is common sense that a drain that collects rain water from the road should be built adjacent to the road and not to the property walls. But what we do is the exact opposite. Thereafter, to connect utilities like water and sewage to the properties, we run pipes across the drains, and these pipes becomes obstacles that collect various things thrown into the drain. As a result, the drains require PERIODIC CLEANING.

The drains are also built like rectangles. It has been well known to physicists and engineers for hundreds of years that water flows better in cylindrical drains than in rectangular ones. But we ignore that. As a result, the flow of water is sometimes not enough to clear the drains, and they again require PERIODIC CLEANING.

The drains also have covers with holes in many places. They could easily be topped with percolating surfaces that allow only water to seep in, but for some reason we prefer drains with holes that let in all kinds of debris. As a result, they need PERIODIC CLEANING.

See the pattern? The whole aim of some projects is to ensure that they work in a half-baked way that would generate more small projects in the future. In this, ‘small’ is also important. The work needs to be small enough to be given to the local contractors who are ‘friendly’, and frequent enough to keep the wasteful expenditure flowing without gaps. It also needs to be set to shoddy standards so that real engineering companies will not be interested.

If, by chance, you manage to overcome all this and do this better, you will hear a chorus that ‘better’ is more expensive. Actually, no. In the long run, better is cheaper – notice that there is no need for drain cleaning of this sort on Vittal Mallya Road, where the drains are ducted and buried. But cheaper is what they are trying to avoid!!

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About Ashwin Mahesh 96 Articles
Ashwin Mahesh has been involved in public policy for Bengaluru through his work with the Karnataka government. The views expressed here are his own. He is a member of the Lok Satta party. He is also CEO of Mapunity Information Services, and a director at Oorvani Media, publisher of Citizen Matters and India Together. He is also a visiting faculty with the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore.