The new reality

Systemic inadequacies

The new reality

Blaring horns, traffic jams, potholed roads, unpaved footpaths and unbridled construction — these are the sights and sounds of Bengaluru now. No wonder the city slipped to the 16th position in a city-wide urban governance survey done by Janaagraha, a city-based NGO. A total of 21 cities in the country were covered in the survey.

The results indicated several systemic inadequacies in the city’s governance that could affect public service delivery. Citizens feel that an expanding population has a lot to do with this.

Rama Mani, who works with an IT firm, says that the infrastructure in the city is not able to handle the large number of people residing here. “This has also added to the vehicular movement which in turn, has lead to increased pollution levels,” she says, adding “The improper communication between civic bodies and the public is also a cause for concern.”

She explains that the recent power cuts clearly indicate how civic bodies like BESCOM aren’t able to cater to the needs of the citizens. “Ironically, sometimes one can also see streetlights switched on till noon,” says Rama.

While Rama says that the unplanned felling of trees is leading to fluctuating temperatures in the city, Anand B K, an architect, opines that improper planning has a lot to do with reducing green spaces and changing living conditions. “In places like ITPL and Electronics City, agricultural land has been turned into residential layouts or apartments; that too without proper planning. This has lead to water logging and faulty sanitation system,” he says.

Traffic problems abound and travel time has also changed drastically. “I remember reaching Jalahalli Cross from Yeshwanthpur in a few minutes almost a decade back. It takes around 45 minutes now,” Anand rues.

The myriad of opportunities in the city have been attracting large number of people, says Vivek Menon, a member of Bangalore Vision Group and a member of CISTUP, IISc.

“The city has all the elements and components required to be a world class metropolis but efficiency has been compromised. Take the Outer Ring Road — the corridor exists but it isn’t designed well. This high speed facility’s average speed is 10 km/hr. That needs to be changed to 70 to 80 km/hr. Improvement of these roads by bringing them under the Tender SURE project is needed,” he adds.

“Also, a better interceptive sewage system needs to designed. The water issue can be solved by cleaning up the lakes. If the sewage is cleared and the water quality is improved, the ground water will get recharged and borewells would have enough water,” he says.

Says Ashwin Mahesh, an urban technologist, “Our problem is directly connected to the high number of immigrants in the city. Anything that is changed about the city is quickly swamped by around 3,00,000 people who come in every year. For example, we have a digital police force and a great public transport system, but these things are not noticed due to the huge inflow of people into the city,” he points out.

The challenges in the city have to be understood in terms of the dynamics of the place, he says.

“People still find the city one of the best to come and settle in. But there needs to be better handling of things. An annual master plan for the city is required instead of it being done every 15 years. Doubling the fleet of buses, adding more lung spaces and bringing more roads under the Tender SURE will  bring the city back to its full glory,” he adds.

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