City on the cusp of takeoff and decline

City on the cusp of takeoff and decline

Challenges before Council

  Over the next five years, they have an opportunity to set forth a redevelopment agenda for Bangalore — develop and implement a comprehensive plan for the city’s orderly growth.

But should they fail, like their predecessors, the consequences could be disastrous — the quality of life will rapidly deteriorate, reducing the city to an unliveable urban gridlock.

A grim picture of the likely consequences of the failure to put the city on the redevelopment course is contained in a just-released report by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) that carried out a detailed study on India's urbanisation trends now and over the next 20 years in over 60 cities across the country.

Over the next 20 years, Bangalore will have a population of 1.1 crore and will remain the fifth largest city in the country. If the current growth trends continue, Bangalore will emerge as the fourth largest income (Gross Domestic Product) generator among the metros, accounting for a whopping Rs 6,00,000 crore a year by 2030. And, the projected 1.1 crore Bangaloreans will enjoy the best annual per capita income among the metros, at   Rs 6 lakh, the next best being that of Delhi’s Rs 5.5 lakh.

But the rosy picture of the city will not become a reality if its new governing body and the state government fail to address the immediate challenges.

Effective  governance

First, the authorities have to provide an effective and purposive administration that also lays emphasis on professionalising decision-making in place of the present ad hoc approach.

The city needs to address, among others, core problem areas of providing affordable housing, an efficient mass transportation system, create far better roads, vastly improved water supply and upgraded storm water drainage, solid waste management and sewage systems.

At present, like in most other metros, one-third of Bangalore’s population does not get water supply from the civic body concerned and those who do, get only 65 per cent of the minimum requirement. The city’s public transportation is just over 50 per cent of what is desired. Probably, about 25 per cent of the population lives in slums. Once known as the country's Garden City, Bangalore now badly requires more parks and open spaces as they shrunk in recent years due to the city’s reckless and unplanned growth.

Investment required

The investment required for the city’s redevelopment and planned growth is huge, according to the study. Over the next 20 years, the investment requirement is projected at a huge Rs 2,80,000 crore. Annually, the investment requirement would be roughly Rs 14,000 crore, which is about five times the present annual investment in infrastructure — mainly for housing, mass transit, roads and water supply.

Tough decisions would have to be taken towards resource mobilisation. One of the recommendations is that the government would have to be the land developer so that it is in a position to monetise land assets as a resource mobilisation measure. This will test the government’s commitment, as today, many corporators and legislators are themselves land developers.

Among other suggestions are collecting higher property taxes, levying user charges reflecting costs, debt and public-private partnerships and higher fund transfers from the State and Central governments.