Urban fantasy


The massive infrastructure upgradation plan for Bangalore city that state transport minister R Ashok unveiled last Saturday is impressive. Details of the plan are yet to be spelt out. Probably that will have to await Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa’s nod. But what already stands out is the staggering Rs 22,000 crore projected to be spent by the BBMP, the city’s civic body, on improving roads, drains and lakes over the next three years. On the face of it, it is too good to be true. Ashok has also detailed the government’s proposal for raising the required funds. And, it seems the requisite money can be mobilised.

It is good to think big. But the problem is that in the past grandiose plans announced by successive governments have remained only on paper. There was one chief minister who led Bangaloreans up the garden path, promising to transform the city into a Singapore!

That was a decade ago. Today, 10 years later, the cosmopolitan city’s population has increased by almost two million; its geographical limits have stretched by several kms in all directions, what with seven municipalities being brought into its fold. But with no concrete steps taken to create a Singapore out of Bangalore, the city traffic situation has turned nightmarish. Less said the better about the many lakes, though, mercifully, some of these water bodies have received the concerned civic authorities’ attention. If the city has still grown as the country’s new economic capital, that is more due to the entrepreneurial spirit of the people who have over the years made Bangalore a pre-eminent centre for education, IT, IT-enabled BPO units, BT, apparels, etc and despite the pathetic infrastructural conditions. To cite one example, the so-called magic boxes aimed at easing the traffic situation have actually not worked even as a stop-gap measure. There is nothing to even suggest that the city’s growth is planned.

Cynics would be excused if they believe that Ashok’s announcement is but another of those political ploys intended to target the voters when an election is round the corner. After all, the BBMP elections are long overdue and the BJP government is under intense pressure to hold the polls. It is, therefore, high time for the government and the city’s civic bodies to get real and serious about improving the rapidly growing city’s crying infrastructural needs.

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