Bengaluru civic body offers free wireless in tech city

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Citizens in India's tech hub would soon get free wireless connectivity to access internet in public places, as the city civic body plans to set up about 400 Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) hotspots, said an official on Wednesday.

"Free Wi-Fi will be provided to the people with the state government's assistance in setting up 400 hotspots across the city, our offices and bus stands," Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) tax and finance committee chairman M. Mahadev said citing the budget outlay for fiscal 2018-19 from April 1.

Presenting the civic budget for the ensuing fiscal, Mahadev told corporators of the 192 wards in the city that of the Rs 9,326-crore expenditure, Rs 5,126 crore would be spent on maintenance and development works, followed by Rs 1,069 crore on garbage disposal and storm water drainage modernisation, Rs 769 crore on welfare programmes, Rs 699 crore on salaries and pension and Rs 316 crore on horticulture, forest and lakes.

The official, however, did not mention the amount earmarked for setting up the 400 hotspots for free wireless access to the city's 11-million citizens.

The budget expects to raise Rs 9,323 crore in the fiscal 2018-19, including Rs 2,751 crore from taxes, Rs 2,504 crore from non-tax revenue, Rs 3,665 crore from central and state governments grants and Rs 403 crore from recoveries and refunds.

Mahadev also earmarked Rs 5 crore to build official residences to the Mayor and the Commissioner in the city.

He has also proposed to buy digital tablets to all councillors for ushering in digital corporation.

Apart from free safety kits, the civic workers will be served midday meals from the state-run Indira Canteens, he said.

City Mayor R. Sampath Raj of the Congress, Deputy Mayor Padmavathi Narasimhamurthy of the Janata-Dal-Secular (JD-S), which is a coalition partner in the ruling civic body, and BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad were present in the civic body council hall during the budget presentation.

The budget reflected citizen's aspirations and was pro-people, with a focus on social welfare and women's safety, Raj said.

Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader in the civic council Padmanabha Reddy, however, said the budget "betrayed" the citizens.

"There are no new schemes in the budget, it can't even be called old wine in a new bottle," Reddy lamented.

Commissioner Prasad claimed that the civic body had implemented about A76 per cent of the 2017-18 budget.

"Some of the works taken up under the state government funds released last year will see fruition this year. The fiscal health of the civic body has improved, with no new loans," asserted Prasad.

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