Why was the MV Wisdom allowed to get so near the Bandra-Worli Sea Link?

Did the container ship being towed to the Alang junk yard have permission to sail so close to the coast and sensitive Bombay High oil installation? Who plotted her course? And how come nobody interrupted her voyage

There is now a new landmark off the coast in Bandra, in suburban Mumbai, that joins another outside the Otters Club there, and the city should consider itself lucky that it did not float onto the signature Bandra-Worli Sea Link. It is the MV Wisdom, a 26-year-old container ship, which in the course of its lifecycle has been blessed with 14 name changes, and nobody knows how many owners.

As a matter of fact, the real beneficiary owner of the ship is still not known, at least not officially. Who the real owners and financiers of this ship are will, ofcourse, be known to all and sundry in the by-lanes and backstreets of Mumbai's Ballard Estate. This is the kind of published information, incidentally, which can cause the untimely demise of journalists; or others too, as we have seen recently again. So we stay out of that aspect, though it is certainly important, especially in this day and age of scams linked to stolen assets, hidden in tax havens, appearing in other industries like international sports events, offshore oil exploration, and telecom. This article tries to answer some of the simpler questions.

The first simple question that arises is, what was this rust-bucket, junk, unseaworthy vessel doing so close to Mumbai in the first place. The next question is, who plotted courses so far inland from what the actual course on a voyage from Colombo to Alang should have been. And, certainly, why was she inland of the oil rigs and security establishments in and around Bombay High? Mariners cannot even begin to think of the damage she would have caused if she had gone adrift near Bombay High.

MV Wisdom started life in faraway Hamburg, back in 1984-85, as the container ship Olandia. She bounced around the world with a variety of names, flags and despondent owners as well as charterers. These names often saw a repeat of the name Olandia, but also included Ocean Spirit, Contship Canada, City of Leeds, Oocl Pudong, Vietnam Star, Moringia, India Star, QC Wisdom and finally, Wisdom. Through all this, she bore a constant IMO (International Maritime Organisation) number - 8417558. As a small container ship, logging around 700 TEU, she would eventually see service as a feeder and an uneconomical one at that. Scrapping, therefore, would be a natural outcome.
 
Rule paramount which is drilled into our heads right in the beginning of our training is: All seaworthy merchant ships have a right of innocent passage through non-inland waters worldwide. However, a ship headed for scrapping, either under her own power or tow, does not come close to land or coast, as far as possible, for multiple reasons. If she does, then she needs to inform the authorities, who will then decide if she is to be provided with what is known as "the right to innocent passage" guaranteed to all seaworthy ships of all nations. Because a ship headed for scrapping is not seaworthy. And if a national authority wishes to, it can certainly deny her the right of innocent passage through her territorial waters, till a point where she has to enter the territorial waters for scrapping, or with precautions to prevent exactly what happened with the Wisdom.
 
In other words, the Wisdom should simply have stayed far away from India's territorial waters, until she was right off Alang, where she was reportedly destined for, and then made an entry in as direct and straight a course as possible. That is what her entry permissions into India should have stated in the first case.

The first convention that the MV Wisdom broke is that her tug and she entered India's territorial waters knowingly, and consciously, despite being very unseaworthy. We need to know and find out if she sought the required permissions to do so, or just barged right in, and then meandered close to Bandra, subsequently. A tug tow breaking in the monsoons, especially when towing an empty unmanned dead ship with high windage, is not something the authorities should have permitted right off Mumbai. One can, therefore, only presume that she was right off our coast, by some reports just four miles off, without any permissions or clearances. It would have to be total deliberate criminal negligence if permissions were given to this movement, in the way described, with just one tug that seemingly gave up after the towing arrangement snapped.

If she was in any other country, the authorities would have insisted that she had backup arrangements, at least two tugs for the tow and a third one on standby, and very regular monitoring of the situation.

Now, a dead ship under tow is not some sort of high-speed boat, it is more like a very slow combo chugging and struggling along at a speed not exceeding 3-4 knots (about 6-8 kmph), at best, if not even slower. In this sort of weather it would have taken more than a few days just to cross Mumbai harbour, assuming she came close to the coast past Goa, and then along the Raigad/Kolaba coast. She would have been picked up on every small and large shore radar screen, every naval and coast-guard ship, every offshore supply vessel on duty in and around the Bombay High platforms, and even the radars on the platforms and rigs. Most of all, despite the heavy seas and monsoons, she would have been visible to the naked eye from more than a dozen light-houses along the coast, including assorted naval batteries.
 
In addition, every other ship underway in and around the area would have picked her up on their radar screens, and stayed miles away. Any ship at anchor that this combo came within miles of would either raise anchor and flee, or raise a strong protest on the radio to the tug as well as the port authorities. As seafarers, we know how unpredictable and dangerous such derelicts under tow can be, and it is just not worth it being anywhere near them. Anywhere would mean that if I was on another ship, I would keep a very safe distance, which means steer at least five miles clear distance away, regardless, even more if I was a tanker or other kind of big ship.

Every one of them would have seen a double-blip on their screens. Any one of them could have challenged the tug-ship tow on simple VHF radio, and asked them to move further from shore, as well as establish identity. Every one of them could have filed a report with the many radio and marine stations all along the coast, of a tug and tow operating too close to the coast and representing a possible hazard. It is likely that some did, but whether they did or not is unknown; and even if they did, what happened next would be unknown. Something similar happens when un-roadworthy trucks are winked past on our roads, to give you an idea of what really may have happened, since there is no other logical reason why nobody seems to be aware of what was happening till this 13,000 tonner landed up aiming for the Bandra-Worli Sea Link.

The grapevine is, with hindsight, that this was a deliberate attempt to push a ship on to the Sea Link. Grapevine is seldom reliable and it does seem far-fetched, but it is an angle that will need to be investigated. If those who are investigating can find the real owners, that is.
 
The bigger issue, however, is that the Indian coast is rapidly becoming a dump yard for the junks and overage ships. And the Wisdom is just another example of this malaise; the solution to which has been debated and written about repeatedly, but never implemented, for a variety of reasons.

For all the coastline we have, our authorities have simply been unable to put up a simple Vessel Tracking System (VTS) along the coast, and appear to be nowhere near to doing so either. The bigger issue that the Wisdom brings out with shocking precision is simply that despite all the fuss after the 26/11 attacks by boat from Karachi, our coastline is as open as it was. Never mind small fishing boats, huge ships like the Wisdom can sail through, without being stopped or challenged. Think about it.
 
And if you challenge this too much, then you are in danger of meeting the same fate as other journalists who dig too deep, into matters pertaining to anything which might upset the status quo, of what really happens in offshore India. Or, being called "anti-national", as this writer has been, lately.

(Veeresh Malik is a qualified mariner and writer. He is also consulting editor with "Sailor Today".)

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    COMMENTS

    RamSChandran

    8 years ago

    It has been more than two weeks that MV Wisdom is stuck in Juhu beach,Mumbai.Navy tried twixce or thrice to pull her out with out any success.Later on,no news at all.I am afraid that it will become a permanent tourist attraction of Juhu beach,like MV River Princess stuck in the sands of Goa sine the year 2000.
    Though many readers replied to my views expressed about a week back,none of the authoraties concerned even venture to address the issue.This ship being towed from Srilanka should have taken international sea route ( 50 miles away from the coast) till Alang ship yard is in the vicinity when a pilot boat will guide her in to the yard.This is the normal Internatinal rule.Does the GOI have any "prevention of coastal diaster plans" at all ?
    THOGH PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE, ANY ACTION TAKEN (EVEN NOW) IS BETTER LATE THAN NEVER.

    awasthi

    8 years ago

    among the loads of articles written on mv wisdom, this is really informative and analysis the situation - factually & logically.

    someone should dig deep, as fear of not digging deprives information.

    kapil seth

    8 years ago

    DEAR ALL,
    I AM SHIPPY, AFTER READING YOUR FACTS ABOUT SEQUENCE OF GROUNDING OF M/V WISDOM, STILL WHAT THE QUESTIONS WHICH ARE NOT CLEAR ARE: IF THE SHIP WAS MANNED OR NOT. AND IF IT WAS MANNED - WHY THE ANCHORS WERE NOT USED AT FIRST INSTANCE ON APPROACHING COAST? THIS SHOWS THE DUE NEGLIGENCE OF THE VESSEL'S COMMAND AND IT CREW.
    HOPE THIS WILL TEACH SOME LESSON TO OTHER SEAFARERS ON COASTAL VOYAGES, IN EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS.

    Ram S Chandran

    8 years ago

    I am a shippy.I am really shocked to know that how could a scrapped ship come so close to Mumbai.As said by the writer atleast three tug boats should have been deployed to move the ship.It is really providential that no catastophe took place in Mumbai.It is dreadful even to think about what would have happened if the ship had collided with the sea link bridge in Bandra.Navy should have been entrusted with the task of moving the ship away from Indian shores much before any calamity should take place.The owners should be fined severely so that such incidents will not be repeated in the future.Maybe the authorities concerned will be prompted to take action ONLY after serious accident takes place.Instead of brushing and provoking PNS Babar,engaged in rescuing the MV Suez from the pirates,INS Godavari or other naval ships should have been used here in Mumbai to pull out this MV Wisdom from juhu beach and pushed away outside the Indian territorial waters.I am surprised that nobody monitors Indian shores.No wonder Ajmal Kasab and his terrorists could easily enter Mumbai.This matter should alert the coast guards,Navy et al as a wake up call and protect the Indian waters.

    REPLY

    malq

    In Reply to Ram S Chandran 8 years ago

    Dear Ram - thanks for writing in. Let us be frank - all this would need is a Notice to Mariners by DGS instructing all ships entering territorial waters to abide by certain regulations pertaining to safe navigation with special emphasis on anything other than non-overage non-hampered vessels - incuding tug-tow, VLCC/ULCC and the rest of it - especially when more and more are coming close to the Coast for anti-piracy as well as mobile phone connectivity reasons.

    Virendra

    8 years ago

    So many "establishments" but effectiveness is dismal.

    After all,it is the common public which rightly looks concerned and deserves a transparent picture and accountability of responsibility.Politicians and other similar authorities in this country are adrift for many years and will not do anything pro-active.

    It is an extremely serious matter.

    It is real and not a movie.

    Thanks Veeresh Malik for passing the information.

    REPLY

    malq

    In Reply to Virendra 8 years ago

    The deep and dark connection between such episodes involving ships whose owners remain unknown behind layers and layers of tax havens is directly aided and abetted by a lax administration. Please understand the deeper problems involved - on which I shall be writing some more.

    concerned

    8 years ago

    It is kind of scary. Such a big ship coming almost to our shores and none of our so called "establishments" had any clue about it? We thought we had become concious and brought in awareness after 26/11 but it looks like anybody can come to our shores without checks - be it a small fishing vessel or a huge vessel such as the MV Wisdom. God help us, help our country.

    Advocate Ramkrishna M Kaoshik

    8 years ago

    Thank the mariner in Veeresh for the thought provoking report.
    If such a huge vessel can get so close to Mumbai's coast line, where is Mumbai's marine security Excellent article which exposes the casual attitude of all govt depts.

    REPLY

    malq

    In Reply to Advocate Ramkrishna M Kaoshik 8 years ago

    Thank you for writing in, Mr. Ramkrishna, and some of the inputs I have received speak about a possible conspiracy and more - to sort of "test" the responses of the authorities. Please also read the 2nd part, up and running/

    Prateek

    8 years ago

    The back-story, which gets revealed after reading these reader-comments, is really stunning! Is Indian Govt. so STUPID that this could happen in this Maritime Nation?? After the Mumbai Attacks of Nov 2008. Oh, all that seems so long ago!! The drama never stops....

    Engineer at Work

    8 years ago

    Excellent article which exposes the casual attitude of all govt depts.

    A similar ship stands off Goa coast for last 12 years. We know its owner well, still no action taken. Infact Goa Govt will spend tax payers money in removing the ship for the owner.

    The latest tourist magnet of mumbai will be MV Wisdom. Govt of this Maha State should declare it a national asset & start collecting fees from tourist who come to see it.

    I don't see any "Wisdom" been used by our netas & govt depts in removing MV Wisdom.

    REPLY

    malq

    In Reply to Engineer at Work 8 years ago

    Than you for writing in. In this case, wrt the mv WISDOM, as per information flowing in, the game appears to be deeper. It is almost as though somebody sat and calculated tide, current, wind and all other factors, and then let loose this ship so that she could do maximum damage. Or this was a dry run to see what the authorities would do - which appears to be, as of now, nothing. Maybe they were going to use boathooks and old tyres to push it off the SeaLink bridge, or shoot at it with 303 rifles, we will never know.

    Enginner At Work

    In Reply to malq 8 years ago

    Having worked on Bandra worli sealink as a enginner and seen many barges breakoff from tugs during construction. I must say its a major plan to destory the sealink. We need to dig deeper and expose the name of the owner. I have already forwarded your article to as many people as possible.

    Java

    8 years ago

    What a convenient way for terrorists to deliver a dirty bomb! India seems to have pledged itself to stupidity.
    PS has someone from the CG or IN bothered to examine the vessel closely from inside and taken action to get rid of it?

    REPLY

    malQ

    In Reply to Java 8 years ago

    Very valid points and questions, java, and shall be addressed in the follow-up article. Some very surprising information coming my way on this episode, still need to re-verify parts of it, though it has been established that some elements within the authorities knew about a potential situation developing as early as the 10th/11th of June 2011 - at a point when enough other salvage as well as rescue tugs could have been sent to secure and tow the ship off into the deeper waters of the high seas, where she could simply have been used as target practice by the Indian Navy, and sunk - since the owners had technically abandoned the ship, per international laws and conventions.

    nagesh kini

    8 years ago

    Thank the mariner in Veeresh for the thought provoking report.
    If such a huge vessel can get so close to Mumbai's coast line, where is Mumbai's marine security - the Coast Guard and coastal police post 26/11?
    What were they doing when it entered Mumbai waters? After all it was not a small craft used by the terrorists!

    REPLY

    malq

    In Reply to nagesh kini 8 years ago

    Thank you for writing in, Nagesh.

    The more one hears about this incident, the more one is certain that there was some sort of conspiracy, way beyond an accident. The simple fact that no attempt was made even to drop the anchor at any stage is in itself suspicious.

    Deepak Khemani

    8 years ago

    This article sure raises a lot of questions and as the author himself says
    "you are in danger of meeting the same fate as other journalists who dig too deep, into matters pertaining to anything which might upset the status quo".
    There will be no answers forthcoming with everyone pushing the responsibility on some other department and the real reason as to how this ship landed up at Juhu Beach will never be known

    REPLY

    malq

    In Reply to Deepak Khemani 8 years ago

    Thank you for writing in, Deepak, but we do hope that something will come out and happen with the present attempts to make some headway with transparency in governance.

    ‘Indian government’s policies segregate the disabled from the rest’

    Survey by the WHO and the World Bank points out that India has miles to go to ensure a life of dignity for the disabled

    The World Report on Disability, compiled by the WHO (World Health Organization) and the World Bank, released on 10th June, shows that India has a long way to go to ensure welfare for citizens with disabilities. Despite being the home to a large number of people with disabilities, India has fared poorly in terms of rehabilitation of the disabled or for their education, healthcare and employment.

    "In India, children with disabilities in special schools fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, while children in mainstream schools come under the Department of Education in the Ministry of Human Resource Development. This division reflects the cultural perception that children with disabilities are in need of welfare rather than equality of opportunity. This particular model tends to further segregate children with disabilities, and shifts the focus from education and achieving social and economic inclusion to treatment and social isolation," the report says.

    The report defines 'disability' in a very wide sense, which also includes people who suffer from chronic health conditions, or undergone physical or mental trauma in an accident. "More than one billion people in the world live with some form of disability, of whom nearly 200 million experience considerable difficulties in functioning. Disability will be an even greater concern due to ageing populations and the higher risk of disability in older people as well as the global increase in chronic health conditions," says Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO and Robert B Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group in the preface to the report.

    The apathy can be noticed in a variety of other ways too. In India, 42% of public buildings do not follow the compliance norms necessary to make public structures accessible to the disabled. With a high disability prevalence rate of 24.9%, India loses some10.5 years of health due to disability. During 2004-2005, only 0.05% of the budget allocated to the ministry concerned was reserved for welfare of people with disabilities. Access to healthcare is severely limited to many, due to high cost, lack of convenient transport and lack of services.

    In matters of access to primary education, the share of disabled children not enrolled in school is more than five times the national rate. Even Karnataka, which has fared the best among Indian states, almost one-quarter of children with disabilities were out of school, and in states like Madhya Pradesh and Assam, the number increases to more than half.  

    Moreover, though as high as 60% of disabled children between 6-11 years attend school, the number drops to 30% for those between 12-17 years. Only 37.6% of the people with disabilities are employedand 87% of them are in informal sectors.

    According the 2001 Census, there are 21.90 million people with disabilities in India. However, a 2007 World Bank Report on disabled persons in India observed that there is growing evidence that people with disabilities comprise between 5%-8% of the Indian population (around 55- 90 million individuals).

    However, India has shown significant improvement over the years, and the country has seen the movement for the support of the disabled gain significant ground. Many schemes have been implemented, and in many parts of India, the education and healthcare situation has improved. The Leprosy Mission's training centres have a job placement rate of more than 95%. The 2011 Census is supposed to be more 'disability-sensitive' and accurate, and the much awaited Persons with Disabilities Act, 2011 is to be implemented this year.

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    COMMENTS

    S H Subrahmanian

    8 years ago

    We're far from any steps to ensure welfare for sr citizens, tribals too. Despite the fact elder abuse is rampant - it's said one-third are suffering. India has fared poorly in terms of rehabilitation of these or for education, healthcare et al for the neglected. Mushrooming of SEZs at the cost of agricultural lands and non-development in terms of infrastructure in tribal areas, and no developments. HM says he can 'tackle Ramdev's militia, failing at the same time with anti-terrorism, naxal movement et al!

    Java

    8 years ago

    The slotting of disabled under Social Welfare also leads to a disadvantage for schools for the disabled. Normal schools get a waiver on RTO taxes for the school buses, but not schools for the disabled. In Uttarakhand, I know of a school run on a shoestring budget for underprivileged disabled kids, which has to shell out Rs 4000 a month on Road taxes, while private schools for the affluent pay nothing. Just because the school for disabled children is not under the Ministry of Education! No amount of logic or pleading is of any consequence with the Uttarakhand bureaucracy. Rules are after all rules! Some people in India lack empathy completely and many of them seem to be in government.

    Mr Arvind Jadhav

    8 years ago

    my brother is disabled and retired with empty ends. Is there any provision or pension for these disabled & family over
    60 years. Are there any charity or NGOs
    to help such people. Please submit all
    detailed info to him asap. or Phone him
    +9122.2446.8038 or contact Rangodyan 4, Mahim, Mumbai -400 016

    Bengaluru is BEST! BMTC is growing rapidly, while BEST is losing commuters

    Mumbai's BEST and Bengaluru's BMTC are both innovating to cope up with growing populations. But while BMTC has been growing fast, BEST seems to be losing commuters mainly to the railway system. BMTC can be proud of its progress if it is also able to become financially profitable

    BEST (or Bombay Electric Supply and Transport undertaking) in Mumbai has a bus fleet of 4,700, of which 288 are air-conditioned. These buses not only cover the 437 sq km area managed by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) but also provide services to Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) areas, albeit to a limited extent. The bus routes have been planned on the staged service system, with point-to-point travel, allowing commuters to choose a route best suited to the individual concerned. Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport, with its fleet of 226 buses, provides reciprocal services to MCGM areas, in addition to service within NMMC areas. BEST also plies buses to other adjacent municipalities of Mira-Bhayandar and Thane. Thane too has a service to CST, Mumbai, as well as Mira-Bhayandar. In fact, there is one more agency that provides public transport in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and that is the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC). While MSRTC does ply stage service on its inter-city routes like the Eastern and Western Express Highways and the Sion-Panvel Highway, its major service is from state transport (ST) bus stands to ST bus stands within the MMR.

    However, to sum-up, it is BEST that commands the public transportation scenario in the Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Mira-Bhayandar urban agglomerate. It carries out a stupendous task, facilitating mobility for about 43 lakh commuters daily, which latest reports suggest has dropped to about 38 lakh.

    Innovations are a must if one has to improve efficiency of service, and thereby overall profitability. BEST has the day ticket scheme of Rs25 that enables a commuter to travel by a BEST bus anywhere on its non-AC, non-corridor services. If corridor buses are to be used, one buys a day ticket of Rs40. The equivalent monthly pass amounts are Rs555 and Rs805 respectively. Very recently, BEST has allowed Rs555 monthly pass-holders to travel for the day on corridor buses for a ticket charge of Rs15 and not Rs40. That's innovative pricing.



    BEST provides four kinds of services. The ordinary and express routes clubbed as non-AC and non-corridor; the corridor routes which have very limited stops and traverse over flyovers and the Sea-link; the AC routes, which also have limited stops but do not go over flyovers; and AC express routes, which is AC buses run like the corridor routes.

    The fact that buses plying on the highways are packed during peak hours, means there is room for improvement through further innovative schemes, like introducing articulated and bi-articulated buses and the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS). Introduction of BRTS will enable the bus fare structure to be reformed and made affordable to a larger number of commuters, who otherwise opt for the sub-urban railway system.

    Let us shift our attention to Bengaluru. BEST in Bengaluru? The reality is that it is not BEST in Bengaluru but best in Bengaluru. Why do I say that the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is better than BEST! The figures speak for themselves. Since 2006, the number of bus depots have increased from 25 to 35. The fleet size has increased from 4,106 to 6,111. Effective kilometres traversed per day has increased from 8.67 lakh km to 12.55 lakh km and staff strength has increased from about 19,000 to 33,000. In 2001, BMTC employed about 13,000 people, it had a fleet size of 2,264 and carried 26 lakh commuters. Today, it carries 43 lakh passengers every day. How has that come about?



    Bengaluru has grown not only vertically, but the urban sprawl is also considerable. People from rural Bengaluru who at one time cycled to the city, now perforce use the public transport as the roads and traffic have become hostile. Changing work culture demands that they put in eight to ten hours on the job. The number of professionals has also increased and many have taken to travelling by their personal vehicles, two- as well as four-wheelers. With the growing population and growing vehicular traffic, road and public transport carrying capacity needed to be augmented.

    The JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) funding has come in handy to augment the bus fleet and associated infrastructure. Unlike in Mumbai or for that matter in Hyderabad, Bengaluru has had no rail-based transportation infrastructure. Metro Rail has been conceived and is being projected as an answer to the city's traffic woes. A twin route, one north-south and the other east-west has been planned and is under execution, albeit at an unenviable pace. Meanwhile, the BMTC has been innovative in its services for commuters.

    As Bengaluru has grown, its road infrastructure projects in the form of ring roads (outer and inner), flyovers and underpasses, are being implemented vigorously. And BMTC is providing bus services effectively, on these as well as the other roads across the city. In a hierarchical manner, let us see what the bus system is like.

    One can put the Vayu Vajra service at the top of the list. It operates Volvo air-conditioned buses to different parts of Bengaluru and far-flung suburbs. These are the ultra-low floor buses that halt at bus stands at the airport in such a way that the floor at the front door is actually just above the pavement at the bus stop, leaving just a 75 mm climb. This facilitates loading luggage easily too, for which adequate luggage racks has also been provided. The buses also have provision for a wheel-chair bound person to board the bus with reasonable ease and clamp-up on board. The same space is dually used for bicycles, which facilitates ride-carry-ride. These buses cover distances in reasonable time, but the traffic congestion affects its functioning too.



    These buses adhere to scheduled timing and have some vacant seats to pick up passengers along the route.

    Next is the air-conditioned Volvo Vajra service. The buses are similar to the Vayu Vajra service, but they do not have space for a luggage rack, although they can accommodate wheelchairs and cycles. These buses ply on ring roads and some inside roads too. They also cover far-out places. They have the same bus number as ordinary route buses and traverse the same routes, but they are air-conditioned and have limited stops.

    Then there are the BIG10, which ply in the far suburbs to the outer core of the city to facilitate a changeover to buses taking you to your destination. This helps avert city congestion delays for commuters from far-out places, enabling them to cover long distances in quick time. The Suvarna and Pushpak are non-AC bus services with better bus suspensions and seating arrangements plying on some of the routes of the ordinary bus routes.

    If the bus destination boards are less cluttered, i.e. only in one language like in Mumbai - say Kannada board in the front and English or Devnagari in the rear or side, it would facilitate the growing non-Kannadiga population to quickly gathering the route number and destination information.

    BMTC also has the day ticket and monthly pass facility like BEST has. What is lacking in both is the Bus Rapid Transit System. But them the BRTS needs to be planned for a city by its transportation group such as MMRDA for Mumbai and the Urban Land Transport of the Urban Development Department of Karnataka Government. While I do see that ULT/UDD of GoK is seriously considering this facility, MMRDA seems to have gone past that level of seriousness. It is too engrossed with Metro and Monorail. Given the scenario, it is for you to judge which of the two is better or whether they can both learn from each other.

         
    [Sudhir Badami is a civil engineer and transportation analyst. He is on the Government of Maharashtra's Steering Committee on Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) for Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority's (MMRDA) technical advisory committee on BRTS for Mumbai. He is also member of the Research & MIS Committee of Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMMTA). He was a member of the Bombay High Court-appointed erstwhile Road Monitoring Committee (2006-07). He has been an active campaigner against noise pollution for over a decade and he is a strong believer in a functioning democracy. He can be contacted on email at [email protected].]

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    COMMENTS

    nagesh kini

    8 years ago

    Sudhir
    I propose going to Bengaluru to see for myself. I'm told the traffic is chaotic.Will report on ascertaining.

    Sudhir Badami

    8 years ago

    Apparently BEST did not count in the pass holders, the daily ticket holders and hence appear to be losing passengers. But the number of train passengers have increased to 74 lacs in 2010 from 64 lacs in 2007 while more or less stagnant around 43 lac for BEST. http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/S...

    nagesh kini

    8 years ago

    Having lived in New Delhi, and widely travelled in the public transport system at Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, amchi BEST is by far the BEST. It should not be allowed to rot.

    Like Bengaluru's Vajra. BEST ought to consider AC buses to and from Sahar, Santa Cruz, CST, Mumbai Central, Dadar, Kurla and Bandra terminals. The Bengaluru has been a success, I've used it to my entire satisfaction. Point to point right stops and tariff. Not only in Mumbai but other metros too.

    Hiten

    8 years ago

    Dear Sir,

    Being a daily user of mass public transport in Mumbai, this question has been troubling me for a long time. Though we have been boasting of a super efficient public transport system, other cities are racing ahead of us. (Delhi with its Metro and AC buses, Bangalore with its AC buses and the planned Metro network etc). Any one using the public transport in Mumbai in the peak hours (which must be the longest in Mumbai compared to any other city in the world), will realise that the conditions are just inhuman.

    The number of people that are packed in our buses and trains is difficult to be even imagined by a resident of any other city. Why then, sir, do the relevant authorities not increase the services. The first step is to provide more buses! Why has it been assumed that it is normal for a Mumbaikar to travel in conditions worse than cattle and sheep and reach office for an even harder working day.

    Where Mumbai should be having a far greater number of buses (atleast compared to Bangalore) due to its huge population, little seems to be even in progress for us.Also, going by Mumbai's experience in operating buses, it should have had far greater number of AC buses. But with the inferior quality King Long buses, our city seems to have gone in the reverse direction (lack of both quality and quantity).

    However, we do realise that if ordinary people like us are aware of these things, then the qualified people for the job - the planners, the people heading the BEST etc - are also aware of the situation.

    It does not seem that anyone with the ability to take decisions will ever wake up to the pressing needs of the peple of Mumbai.

    Pratish

    8 years ago

    The real competition for BEST is NOT BMTC or any other state/city-run bus service but the local trains in Mumbai. Comparing BEST to another bus service is...well....disservice to BEST. As a Mumbaikar who's staying in Bangalore since a year or so - I can easily say that Mumbai is at least 10 years ahead of Bangalore in terms of city development and it would make sense to look at real figures at that time as opposed to now.

    REPLY

    Max

    In Reply to Pratish 8 years ago

    Dear Pratish, Mumbai is 10 years ahead of B'lore ? Ever heard of a aplace called Dharavi ? You fled Mumbai for a job in Bangalore and indulge in this naatak eh? LOL

    Pratish

    In Reply to Max 8 years ago

    Hey Max,

    10 times ahead - speaking in terms of traffic - Mumbai's got far bigger volumes and much lesser area to handle; still does a better job - Dharavi notwithstanding. And coming to Bangalore for a job has nothing to do with traffic, my friend. If traffic were a consideration, I'd be a lala and set up a business below my house ;)

    Cheers

    rahul

    In Reply to Pratish 8 years ago

    Well Max, I seems you have not grown out of Dharavi.. LOL, that is why only This place came out of your head. LOL...... as for people jobs are concern Mumbai happens to be the biggest Job giving region, including IT, TCS patni and some other IT companies have Headquarters in mumbai and this means Mumbai By far the finest city in India.

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