Form unified transport authority first; 2% land cess can come later: Bengaluru activists | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: With BBMP set to collect two per cent land transport cess on property tax from April 1, many citizen groups and activists feel the government should first set up the long-pending Unified Metropolitan Transportation Authority (UMTA).
BBMP is planning to generate around Rs 100 crore a year through land transport cess and deposit every quarterly collection with Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT), which will use the fund to develop pedestrian infrastructure and cycling tracks. However, activists say formation of UMTA, which integrates multiple agencies, should come first and then collection of land transport cess.

UMTA will help in seamless integration of multiple modes, common ticketing, single timetable for different modes of transport, IT-enabled transport monitoring command centre, setting up of multi-modal hubs, routing and scheduling of bus services, operating feeder services and promoting non-motorised transport modes like cycling and walking. However, DULT doesn’t have enough powers to implement such a big project.
Sandeep Anirudhan, convener of Citizen’s Agenda of Bengaluru, a citizen’s movement, said: “The government’s intention is just to collect money, not to spend well for the betterment of the city. DULT is not an empowered agency. The government should form an UMTA for Bengaluru on the lines of Dubai, London and Singapore. Currently, multiple agencies are working independently with their own plans. There is no integrated mobility plan and because of poor coordination, citizens are struggling. They should form an UMTA with adequate powers and then collect this cess.”
Priya Chetty Rajagopal, a citizen-activist, said: “I fail to understand why only a cess is needed to support walking and cycling, which would be the overall focus of the BBMP budget anyway. Why not better compliance and collection of tax or a fuel/vehicle tax instead? Why not free buses at city centres, feeder buses to suburban/Metro station or more e-vehicles? The UMTA, as originally proposed, is not even in place just yet.”
When contacted, additional chief secretary urban development department, Rakesh Singh said UMTA will be formed shortly but he didn’t give any timeframe. BBMP administrator Gaurav Gupta was unavailable for comments.
In 2019, chief minister BS Yediyurappa announced that the state government will set up a Bengaluru Mobility Management Authority under the urban development department. Governments led by Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy too had announced similar proposals, but none of them ever took off.


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Sagar Biswas

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