Congestion triggers: Unplanned growth, irresponsible car purchases

View of the traffic on Bellandoor flyover from Marathahalli to Sarjapur on Tuesday evening in Bengaluru. Photo Srikanta Sharma R.

When Abhishek Reddy talks about the Bengaluru from his childhood days, there is a tinge of sadness. It is as if he is reminded of a good old friend, transformed beyond recognition.

“There was no Silk Board madness, no hour-long traffic jams. I remember evening walks with my family on M G Road and Jayanagar, which were not filled with the disturbing amount of air, noise and visual pollution,” he recollects.

Contemplating to relocate to a smaller city, 45-year-old Reddy notes, “I am one of the several Bengalureans who have helplessly witnessed the city’s evolution from Garden City to congested concrete city.”

Reddy has a small house back in the village. “I might probably move there with my wife once our children are settled. I have always been a proud Bengalurean, but the unplanned growth and chaos is worrying me,” he says.

The worry echoed by Reddy and many other Bengalureans is not without reason. A recent survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has ranked Bengaluru as the second most congested city in South East Asia. This means Bengalureans spend longer time on roads during peak hours.

But many Bengalureans are not even surprised. “We did not need this survey to wake us up. Look at the amount of time we spend stuck in traffic jams, trying to get to our destinations. The jokes about finding the love of our lives on traffic junctions are not even funny to me. It is frustrating,” says Karthika Gowda, a student.

Karthika feels the blame lies equally on the citizens as much as it does on the government. “Everyone wants to own a car and drive it irresponsibly. Without sounding judgmental, the road sense also plays a role in creating congested roads. Like the BMTC buses twirling on roads and the government stomping the city with unscientific plans. Everyone is trying to outdo the other to add to the congestion,” she adds.

Karthika says she always tries to take the public transport or a share-cab. She has also convinced her family to use a single vehicle and plan their rides accordingly.

Other Bengalureans agree that planning by both citizens and government will go a long way in de-congesting the city roads. “The share cabs are good for the city and easy on the pocket. But it is only one of the solutions. There could be some steps by the government that limit the number of vehicles in a family or better plans for wider roads,” suggests Niveditha B R, a business analyst.

But there are others who feel that no amount of planning will help if the immigrant population keeps increasing in the city. Preferring anonymity a city-based businessman points out that the large immigrant population has worsened the congestion.

He points out that one of them enters the city and brings in more of them. “The city offers better remuneration. But does it have the capacity to house all of them?” he asks.

However, Karthika disagrees. For her, the immigrants make the city what it is. “Look at the IT sector or any other. I think skilled workers are always helpful for the economy. If they are doing well for the development, they are always welcome. It is left to the employers and the government to accommodate them in a planned manner,” she reiterates what many Bengalureans feel.

However, the immigrant workers themselves are as much troubled by the congested atmosphere as the locals. “We are living in match-box like conditions. Our salaries have decreased with increasing population and the cost of living has skyrocketed. I may never be able to settle here. The city has changed in the last 11 years, and it is not a very nice change,” a tailor, who wished to remain anonymous, says.

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Congestion triggers: Unplanned growth, irresponsible car purchases

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