Bangalore’s planning history might be long. But proving that the Comprehensive Development Plans have largely remained on paper is not a tough job. Simply walk around the bylanes of any locality to spot glaring instance of poor green cover, non-existent open spaces, brazen mixture of residential and commercial zones, building violations and much more. Now, did someone talk about peaceful neighbourhoods?
With the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) apparently not wielding its stick in supervising the haphazard growth, the private players seem to be having a free run. No wonder the residents, old Bangaloreans in particular, have no option but to lament.
First, a few facts. Studies have also shown that the city lost 66 per cent of its vegetation and 74 per cent of its water bodies in less than 40 years, even as its built-up area grew by 584 per cent.
Says Sri Ram, a government employee and a resident of Jayanagar, “I have been born and brought up here and have literally grown with the city. Much of the damage was done in the last decade and a half with the IT boom when suddenly everyone was making a beeline for this city. Since then there has been no stopping.”
As the population increased so did the needs of the people in terms for accommodation, infrastructure.
“That is when the private players came to the scene and slowly, we witnessed the open spaces getting eaten away and giving way to high rise apartments. The problem is that in the absence of any planning, the sewerage, water, garbage disposal and other amenities posed a challenge which continue to be so till today. Until the authorities wake up from their slumber, the city will continue to go down,” warns Ram.
Vishnu, a 32-year old resident of Cambridge Layout takes a view from the transportation angle. He says, “The volume of vehicles at any given time on the main roads in the city is much higher than the carrying capacity of the road. The city which was mainly for bicyles, tongas, two wheelers now have no space for these on the road. Roads here are in bad shape and the government seem to be not bothered at all about the worsening conditions. Similarly parking in the city is a big problem.”
For K Nagaraja, 67, a resident of HAL, the altered land use is a big issue. “Construction in the city is rampant. You go to any part of the city and invariably you see old buildings being demolished and apartments, commercial spaces being created in that place. Unless there are stringent norms which are formulated to reign in the violators, this will not stop. There will be a day when there will be no green areas or open spaces in the city going by the present scenario. The same things happened with our lakes, which were stuffed with construction debris and now have high rise buildings on the lake beds,” he laments.
However, 27 year old Kishore, a resident of K R Puram, has a different take on the city’s expansion. “It is good that the city is now growing in terms of infrastructure be it residential spaces or office spaces or even the shopping complexes. If everything can be made available at a convenient distance, why not? Till a few years ago, there was nothing in the name of development in our area. Yes, if the growth is done in a planned manner it would be definitely better for everyone. But for that, only the government and the competent authority can take concrete steps,” he explains.
Thirty-four year-old Harsha V, an IT professional and a resident of Kammanahalli, shares Kishore’s views. “Bangalore has always been an education hub and from the past decade and a half, it is the centre for IT industry as well. With changing times, the needs of the people have also changed. If they were comfortable living with a joint family in a small house, today everyone wants an independent apartment. Obviously the growth has taken place as per the needs of the people,” he says.
Harsha maintains, “We cannot complain now when there are so many job oppurtunities for everyone and the economy has grown so much. It is still well within the purview of the government to regulate growth and expansion in the city as per laid down norms. It is not that these norms were not there earlier.”
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva