Monday 5 November 2012

Time running out for Bangalore

Bangalore today is groaning under the weight of  urbanisation. Unchecked development,  piling of garbage, a rusty transport system, encroachment of water bodies, forests and illegal constructions seem to be plaguing Bangalore.
The frequent traffic hold-ups and burgeoning number of vehicles have only worsened matters. None seems to know what to do. Politicians and bureaucrats are busy passing the buck. Experts are  suggesting solutions but these do not percolate down to the planning and implementation stage.
Why are such things happening in Bangalore. What is the reason. Do we blame our rulers. Are the people of Bangalore also to blame. Is it true that compared to others, Bangalore has received step motherly treatment from the Centre. The answer to all this I yes.
We have ourselves to blame for the current mess that we are in. We have passively allowed short sighted policies and initiatives to be introduced. We have not raised out voice till recently and when we  did the civic authorities had to beat a retreat. The best example of such a citizen initiative which put the civic authorities on the backfoot was the felling of trees on the Agara corridor.
The Agara project envisaged widening of the Sarjapur road from Agara by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). Vociferous protests erupted and citizens dragged the civic authorities to court.
The civic authorities were forced to pay heed to the angry voice of the citizens. Bangalore needs such concerted protests so that the civic body consults residents first before planning a  project. Till now, the authorities have been ramming down projects with least concern for citizens.
One such example is the Tagore Flyover or Underpass in Basavanagdi. It was taken up even after residents protested. Today. It stands as a colossal waste, serving little or no purpose. Similarly, the National College Flyover was planned and executed despite protests from residents of Basavanagudi. Years after it was completed, it serves a limited purpose.
The widening of the Palace road over the protests of environmentalists barely moved the civic authorities. These authorities seemed to think that the best way of solving traffic congestion is by felling trees and widening roads. Why can’t they think of regulating  motor vehicles on the road of Bangalore and introducing citizen friendly measures.
The metro project is a welcome initiative to ease traffic from the roads. But has it really eased traffic congestion. Why cannot the Government take steps to expedite the Metro project and impose green tax on citizens, phase out old vehicles, clamp down on autos and encourage car polling.
How about ministers and bureaucrats giving up their cars and taking a common vehicle as they all head to Vidhana Soudha. They can use their vehicles when they have to go out of Bangalore or attend meetings outside their offices and homes. Right?
Bangalore has been facing severe water shortage for decades and several areas like Bellandur, Whitefield and surrounding areas which houses some of the most prestigious IT companies have still not got potable Cauvery water. Why? Who is to blame. Is it the short sightedness of our planners. Should we also blame unscrupulous developers for selling dreams and failing to fulfil them, leaving thousands of people without water and sanitary connections.
The water table in Bangalore has gone down sharply. Till date, the Government does not have any scientific plan to recharge groundwater and also monitor drilling of borewells.
The catchment area of Arkavathy river has been dwindling and the Government seems not to care. It is only after Mr. Suresh Kumar took over as Bangalore in-charge minister that the BWSSB and others have joined hands to revive and revitalise the river. But what about Vrushabhavathi. Why is it still a sewage pool. Why can’t the Government take an immediate  initiative to clean it up.
The less said about the tanks and lakes of Bangalore the better. Decades ago, there were hundreds of tanks. Today, only a handful of them are left. But even they seem to be in bad shape. The Ulsoor lake is filled with weed and filth. The Yediyur lake is stinking. The other lakes are in need of urgent clean up.
The roads of Bangalore are potholed again and again. The drains overflow and rain water accumulates on the roads and this happens every monsoon. Dengue cases are reported every season and we get the same responses every time. There is no permanent solution.
Is this the city that Kempe Gowda dreamt of. Both Kempe Gowda and Tipu Sultan who ruled Bangalore in different centuries were farsighted men. Both have contributed immensely to the development of Bangalore as have the Wodeyars and even the British.
If Hyder and Tipu nurtured Lalbagh, the British took it to heart and developed it into the garden that it is today. The British gave us Cubbon Park. Kempe Gowda, Tipu Sultan and the British gave us tanks and lakes. What did free India do to these projects. It allowed building within the Cubbon Park, breached scores of lakes, cut down thousands of trees in the name of development and succeeded in reducing the City’s green cover.
A new problem that has been plaguing Bangalore is parking and garbage disposal. Why cannot the civic authorities take steps in this regard. Do we need politicians and corporators to go abroad for solutions to these local issues.
Do we need to spend crores of rupees on Rajyotsava celebrations. I have seen that the Rajyotsava celebrations continue well into the end of the year. What purpose does it serve. This money can be put to better use for the development of Kannada and for poverty alleviation. Instead of each street and locality having their own celebration, why cannot we have one grand one in which members of all communities, localities and parties participate.
The inaction of the Government and the authorities have made the Karnataka High Court take notice of  the short comings and demand an explanation. The issue of garbage disposal,  cutting down of trees, illegal construction, encroachment, denotification of lands, allotment of sites are all in court.
Why should matters of governance be left with courts. Why cannot the Government take a straight and honest stand on these issues. Why cannot it take decision, without leaving it to courts to decide.  
Is it not time that a new beginning was made. Let us not waste public money. Let us meet our corporators and elected representatives and tell them what we expect from them.     
Let us join hands to honour men of literature, men of character, soldiers and teachers. Invest in the youth so that they will take our country forward. Spend more on development and keep aside  differences. Can we not emulate Kempe Gowda  and Tipu Sultan at least for the development of Bangalore.
This blog will aim to give you details about the all issues raised in this article. We hope it will help. Good luck, Bangalore.

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