‘Smart’ Clock Tower project going ‘Smartless’? The Fate of this Rs 98 Lakhs Project seems like in Limbo?

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‘Smart’ Clock Tower project going ‘Smartless’? The Fate of this Rs 98 Lakhs Project seems like in Limbo?

‘Smart’ Clock Tower project going ‘Smartless’? The Fate of this Rs 98 lakhs Project is in Limbo? While the work has stopped on this Clock Tower, presently this “ICONIC” incomplete structure is being used to hang EVENT banners/hoardings? DC Sasikanth Senthil during a meeting with the media people had said that the Clock Tower will stay no matter what-but rumours are that due to the recent development plan in that area as per Smart City projects, chances are that the Clock Tower could be demolished or extreme changes to the mega structure could be made for easy flow of traffic. Rumours are that even the Police Department has not given clearance certificate for the Clock Tower to come up, and it is also learnt that if citizen move this issue to the Court chances are that Clock Tower has to be demolished. But as of now, no one knows what’s going to happen.

Mangaluru: Were our Mangaluru City Corporation officials hooked on stupidity or what? MCC all geared up to waste nearly Rs 98 lakhs of tax-payers money to reconstruct a “Clock Tower”, near Town Hall in the City, which was demolished a few years ago to make way for smooth flow of traffic. While everything was going on well along the stretch of this road, why even did the former MCC Mayor Kavitha Sanil along with MCC Commissioner Mohammed Nazeer bother to rebuild a Clock Tower, which has now come to a halt and is creating a mess- putting motorists in inconveniences and also the citizens.

The same funds putting of this silly project could have been used to rectify the bunch of dilapidated roads which are need of the hour. Only people with no common sense would come up such a project- what’s the point in making the city look Smart this way? The amount of time taken for this project to come up, looks like another Eiffel Tower is coming up in Mangaluru? I always had appreciated the works done by former Mayor Kavitha Sanil, from her massage parlour and other illegal activities places raids, but her decision on constructing this Clock Tower, has my dislike towards her. For the only reason, that it is simply a waste of money on a project, which was not needed at all. With everyone having a mobile, even the kids, even the beggars- and also everyone having a wristwatch – who the heck will look at this clock tower for the Time- and also that the structure is too high- you may even develop a neck pain looking at the clock?

Sources reveal that The Mangalore Smart City Limited (MSCL) had bypassed its project management consultant (PMC) and outsourced the building concept and design. The move was taken in a hurry to implement the Clock Tower Circle at the original place, where the heritage clock tower had stood till 1994. The outsourcing was done to city-based Infrastructure Development Foundation (IDF). “The step was taken Although Wadia Techno Engineering Services Limited has been engaged as a consultant for MSCL,’’ informs consulting civil engineer and Aam Admi Party (AAP) Dakshina Kannada district convenor K P Rajendra Kumar, who obtained the information under RTI. The information also revealed that the Clock Tower was initially planned in the park located next to the Town Hall. “Interestingly, the tenders were floated for the project even before the design was submitted,’’ informs Rajendra.

Long back, when IDF Consultant Dharmaraj was contacted, he had confirmed that the Clock Tower was initially planned within the park… Years ago, at the request of the Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC), he had submitted two designs representing the Clock Tower in colonial and traditional architectures. MCC decision “A design depicting the Clock Tower in traditional architecture was selected but the project was kept in abeyance due to lack of funds. Then City Corporation Mayor Kavitha Sanil and Commissioner Mohammed Nazir decided to implement Clock Tower project under the Smart City mission. During the inspection of the spot, it was MCC Commissioner Nazeer who insisted on relocating the Clock Tower as it would not be visible from the park,’’ he had said.

“In the presence of the MCC’s Standing Committee on works chairman Abdul Rauf, Corporator Sashidar Hegde and engineers, I had literally begged that the tower in its present location was a blunder. When the commissioner did not budge, as a consultant I had to remodel the tower as according to the client’s demands,” he had said and added that the circle facilitating self-disciplined traffic movement would pose problems in future. Underground passes Rajendra says MSCL, in its letter dated July 31, 2018, addressed to him, had revealed that two underground passes would be constructed near the Clock Tower circle on Nehru Maidan Road and on Bibi Alabi Road, keeping passenger safety in mind.

On fears that the Clock Tower would cause traffic snarls, MSCL in-charge managing director hoped that vehicle density would be reduced once the proposed bus stand near Mahaveer Circle became a reality. Rajendra reveals that a proposal on fixing convex mirrors at his own cost to prevent accidents near Paldane Church had been pending for two years on the grounds that it required permission from police. “The letter from MSCL reveals that no such permission from the police was obtained for implementing the Clock Tower circle project. MSCL, which claims to have done traffic intensity and pedestrian surveys, however, failed to produce copies of reports,’’ had informed Rajendra. But even though the MCC asked to speed up the project by the police commissioner, but all of a sudden the work completely stopped, due to the recent changes in the Smart City Development Projects. Even the corporators had demanded the MCC commissioner to give reason for the work to move at a snail’s pace at a recent MCC Council meeting, but all in vain.

And now this nearly Rs 98 lakhs project, may even go up more in expenses, due to the delay. But it looks like No one cares – it is public money, right? That’s the theme for everything undertaken at taxpayers’ expense in the state, for that matter, even in cities like Mangaluru, from walkways for pedestrians, new roads for motorists- but unfortunately, none of these projects are done right. Crores going down the drain – with no accountability for proper upkeep, or maintenance, or supervision. Sometimes newly built projects are demolished because they served no purpose. Similarly could be the fate of this upcoming Clock Tower-where it enriches two sets of contractors, one for building and another for demolishing.

Do you call this governance? Do we have a city administration at all, where someone takes responsibility? Do administrators ever walk around, ever mingle in the crowds to see what life is like for the average resident? Commissioners come and commissioners go, the ‘body’ remains the same – a den of corruption – as former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde once remarked. We, the hapless residents, cover our noses and mouths – literally and figuratively, and step gingerly and go about our daily business as best as we can. Groaning, or sometimes just switching off. Looking and thinking of this Clock Tower, which is awaiting its fate!.

Because we don’t have either the time or the energy. And the authorities bank on that sad truth. That is the tragedy of today’s Mangaluru. That those who should be answerable, get away with impunity. And this clock tower project was former mayor Kavitha’s decision, who wanted to make her wish come true that the clock tower was ready before her tenure ended, but it never happened. Now the Clock Tower is lying there awaiting decisions from all corners, as to what to do with it continue the structure further, or ????

It is learnt that Incidentally, MLA J R Lobo in October 2013 had mooted the idea of rebuilding the Clock Tower. Lobo, also the former commissioner of MCC had said that the project would help the city reconnect with its past and would be constructed in a manner and location that it would not impede the smooth flow of traffic. Lobo, then, however, had favoured a bold new design for the project and not necessarily stick with the old design. But what happened now- Lobo lost the election, and has now lost the interest on this project, it looks like?

With the ancient clock tower gone with the wind, and now that the half done clock tower is sitting without moving an inch forward, I guess the citizens of Mangaluru have to wait and watch as to when a new clock tower will relinquish the memories of the old one. Even decade after the only clock tower of Mangaluru was pulled down, many Mangaloreans got nostalgic about it and felt that it is a hasty and wrong decision of the district administration to reconstruct the structure once again.

Anyways let’s keep our fingers crossed and make it believe once the clock tower is complete and in the meantime, some of the corrupt officials will pocket huge some money from this project-like they always do? Bah humbug! And until the work starts again, the incomplete Clock Tower could be used to hang banners/hoardings, for events like Felicitations programmes, politicians visits, “Music concerts, etc etc. OMG- what a waste of taxpayers money!

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