Pockets of development

Lopsided Growth

Pockets of development

A couple of decades ago, Indiranagar was a sleepy, serene neighbourhood, dotted with tree-lined boulevards and spacious bungalows. Every house had a garden, parking space was in abundant supply and there were more children than vehicles on the roads.

Today, though, the same locality is transformed — arterial roads like 12th Main and 80-Foot-Road are crammed with shops sporting neon signage, as well as restaurants, bars and gyms.Every weekend, the number of people who pour in to shop, eat out or work out is so extensive that traffic becomes virtually impossible to navigate and the concept of parking space barely exists anymore.

Indiranagar doesn’t stand alone, though — there are many other pockets of the City which, although predominantly residential a while back, have now been transformed into almost entirely commercial localities. And while this rapid commercialisation may have benefited some, the people who really bear the brunt of it are the residents of these neighbourhoods.

For instance, John Thomas, who lives in Koramangala, points out that there are definite negative aspects to this commercialisation. This is another neighbourhood where the number of shops seem to outnumber the houses and John explains that this is posing a lot of problems for residents. “The number of shops and restaurants that have sprung up here in the last five years is ridiculous. Of course, college-goers have a great time because there are plenty of places to go to. But on the other hand, more commercialisation means too much noise, no parking space and traffic that is very hard to manage,” he says.

While this is true, it’s also a fact that many home-owners in these areas actually capitalise on these growth spurts by leasing out or selling their property. In fact, Ema, who lives and runs a spa in Indiranagar, points out that that’s how the whole process started in the first place. “People who own houses here occupy one floor and lease out the others — many of them are retired and have no money coming in, so this is a good option for them — everyone’s riding the growth wave,” she points out.

While she feels there are many advantages to living in a commercial space, she also acknowledges that those who run business have certain responsibilities towards the residents of the area.“People love Indiranagar because everything is just a walk away — be it a grocery store, gym, restaurant or bar. And in this neighbourhood specifically, the great part is that no trees have been cut down or green spaces compromised — so we have the best of both worlds,” she says, adding, “on the downside, garbage can be a bit of an issue in overly-commercialised areas.

Also, business owners need to ensure they don’t obstruct traffic — they should ensure they have ample parking space or organise for a valet service.”Adarsh, a film-maker, adds that Malleswaram hasn’t escaped the wave of commercialisation either. He was born and brought up there, but shifted briefly to the centre of the City on work — when he returned to Malleswaram, he was shocked by the changes in his old neighbourhood. 

“Earlier, apart from the main market and 8th Cross, it was a purely residential area. Margosa Road and Sampige Road used to be filled with neem and flowering trees — but most of them have been cut down now. The traffic has become unbearable,” he laments.He acknowledges that it’s difficult to control the growth of commercial establishments, but feels that the BBMP should take steps to control the water situation in the area.

 “Earlier, our house had a well that sustained the entire street — but now the water situation is fairly bad. There should be some way to better organise the usage system,” he suggests.John adds that there should be a system to control the spacing between proposed commercial establishments. 

“In Koramangala, many of them are clustered around Jyoti Nivas College — the entire fifth block is simply packed. The establishments should be dispersed, to cut down on the crowd,” he concludes.

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