Unplanned growth takes a toll on Shivajinagar

Unplanned growth takes a toll on Shivajinagar
Areas coming under the Shivajinagar Assembly constituency are among the oldest in Bengaluru, but they are struggling to come to terms with a booming city.

Haphazard growth and unplanned urbanisation have taken a toll on the peace and tranquility of these areas. Increasing crime rate, heavy traffic, haphazard parking, corruption in public works and indifferent government officials have added to the discomfort of citizens.

The civic grievances of Shivajinagar residents came to the fore at ‘Janaspandana – Citizens for Change’, an interactive programme organised by DH and Prajavani at Guru Nanak Bhavan on Miller’s Tank Bund Road on Saturday.

The event drew a sizeable crowd. Urban Development Minister R Roshan Baig, who represents Shivajinagar in the Legislative Assembly, local corporators and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials interacted with citizens.

Ganesh Babu, a resident of Sampangiram Nagar, complained how several courier offices have turned the residential locality into an undesirable commercial hub. “Goods vehicles block our narrow roads. This rampant commercialisation of a residential area must be stopped immediately. The traffic police must crack down on parking,” he said.

In response, BBMP Joint Commissioner Sarfaraz Khan directed the health officer, Dr Sunitha, to seal the commercial shops in Sampangiram Nagar.  R Anand from Vasanthnagar rued that a commercial complex built four years ago had not yet started because of lack of toilets. He suggested that
Rs 88 lakh sanctioned for improving 6th Cross in Vasanthnagar has been siphoned off with no work to show on the ground.

In reply, Vasanthnagar corporator Sampath Kumar said a provision had been made for building toilets in the commercial complex with government grants. As regards the embezzlement, he said he had written to the BBMP commissioner to take action against guilty officers and bring them to book.

Lack of playgrounds

Residents expressed concern over the lack of playgrounds in Vasanthnagar. Kishore Singh sought to know why the BBMP is not reclaiming the playground leased to Mount Carmel College when the lease period had expired 19 years ago.

“The land was leased to the college for 99 years and the lease period expired on 1998. We need the playground for our children,” he said and added that the institution was renting it for private events.

Sampath Kumar replied that the college had agreed to allow local children to use the playground on Sundays. He said a litigation pertaining to the playground had been pending for the past 17 years.
Singh then pointed out that Anjaneya Swamy Temple Park was also in bad shape and that repeated pleas to the BBMP had yielded no response.

BBMP officer Santhosh said the park would get a facelift shortly as tenders had been invited. Jayamahal corporator M K Gunashekar intervened and said Rs 5 crore had been sanctioned for the park.

A similar complaint was made by Ajay Krishna Yadav of Vasanthnagar. He said the park near Madhav Nagar had become a safe haven for anti-social elements. Sampath Kumar said some shops had come up there and pointed that the owners had obtained a stay from the high court on their eviction. He said he had approached the BBMP’s legal cell to get the stay vacated.

Jyothi, a resident of Muddanna Garden, urged the BBMP to remove slums on a road in the locality. “I complained to BBMP officials but no action was taken. The walls near the slum have become weak and could collapse anytime,” she said. A representative of corporator Nethravathi Krishnegowda assured that the slum would be removed soon.

Baljit Singh representing Halasuru Gurudwara complained about the severe parking problem around the gurudwara, saying the approach road was in bad shape and the open drain near the shrine was stinking. A BBMP assistant executive engineer replied that he would inspect the area shortly and set right the problems in a month.

Gajendra, a resident of Halasuru, said the BBMP had demolished the wall of a park that extended up to a stormwater drain and then built a structure over it. Channakeshava, Assistant Executive Engineer, Storm Water Drain, BBMP, said the wall was demolished for remodelling the drain. As the debate over the matter heated up, Baig said he would visit the place on Thursday along with the stormwater drain chief engineer.

Purushottam, representing Halasuru Residents’ Welfare Association, said no development work had happened in the area for the past 10 years. “We checked the BBMP website and learnt that Rs 7 crore was spent on asphalting a road, which did not take place at all. Rs 49.5 lakh was spent on streetlights, as per BBMP records, but there are no streetlights in our area,” he said.

Baig suggested that the resident give him a written complaint so he can follow it up. He also advised him to approach the Lokayukta and file a PIL if he has sufficient evidence.  A female government officer, who later requested anonymity, highlighted the terror of anti-social elements in Jayamahal Park.

“The park has become a hub of illegal activities. Burqa-clad girls come with their boyfriends and sit in the park. They threaten us if we open the doors of our homes after 7 pm. I was abused and was almost attacked on Friday when I came out of my house and spotted a few boys and their girlfriends. We are living in constant fear. Our children, too, are afraid of venturing out after 7 pm,” she said. Baig asked the police to check anti-social elements.

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