2 reasons Church Street is trending

2 reasons Church St is trending

If there is a pecking order when it comes to roads, Church Street is definitely on top. BBMP says it plans to wash the newly-renovated street with water and detergent once a week as part of an intensive cleaning plan. BBMP says this will remove soot from the stones and that only treated water will be used for the wash.

The cobblestones used for the carriageway tend to get dirty as the smoke from vehicles settles on them. These will soon turn black in colour and the carriageway will lose its sheen, fears the BBMP.

Says BBMP chief engineer, projects, KT Nagaraj, "No other street is being cleaned like this now. We are inviting tenders for the water supply and the entire process will take about a month. Since code of conduct is in place now, we are not doing anything." Though the idea is to wash the road twice a week, BBMP will do it once a week initially.

However, this seems to be a roundabout solution and a problematic one for our water-starved tech city. At a time when many parts of the city reel under water rationing and excessive dependence on water tankers, accompanied by unchecked drilling of borewells that have caused groundwater levels to plummet, it seems an extravagance to use water for uses such as washing roads.

It seems to be a much simpler move to ban vehicle movement on the precious road. The 715 metre long road is quite suitable for walking and will ensure it lives up to its name of being pedestrian-friendly with such a move, with maybe some exceptions for the specially-abled visitors. However, even the proposal of partial pedestrianisation of Church Street for a limited number of hours in a day seems to be stuck in red tape.

Treated water suffers from step-motherly treatment even from the city's educated elite and washing roads will further ensure its lowly place in the hierarchy. Attempts should be made to educate people about how this kind of water is completely potable and suitable for indoor use. If the government is determined to give a facelift to its pet project every week, use of waterless technology should be employed. Vacuum cleaning of roads or usage of waterless powered sweepers seem to be viable alternatives.

Cost is another consideration. "The nearest water treatment plant is the one by BWSSB in Cubbon Park. They charge about Rs 600 for 6,000 litres," says Uma Shankar, one of the directors of Aqozone Industries. "I don't know how much water cleaning up Church Street will require. The cost will depend on the technology employed for treating the water. I have my reservations about this initiative though. At a time when everybody is clamouring for water, it seems frivolous to use it for washing roads."

Stories from the street

Church Street occupies a pride of place among the many iconic spots in Bengaluru. A mix of the old and the new, this area has names like Bookworm, blueFROG, Indian Coffee House, Empire Restaurant, Koshy's and Hard Rock which are engrained any Bengalurean's psyche.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi recently took a quick stroll down Church Street, after a five-minute Metro ride. Accompanied by party stalwarts like state unit chief G Parameshwara, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge and state in-charge K C Venugopal, he walked into The Bookworm bookstore.

"It was a pleasant surprise for us. We had no inkling he was coming and realised only when he walked in," says Krishna Gowda, the owner of Bookworm.

"Rahul spent a lot of time looking at the books here. He was particularly interested in sections like philosophy, history and our rare books. He asked about the rarity of the books and the prices," he says.

Krishna says that Krishna Byre Gowda and Rizwan Arshad are regulars at his shop, so much so that Rizwan could be seen briefing Rahul about the history of the shop himself.

Rahul was gifted five books by Siddaramaiah, including Perumal Murugan's 'The Goat Thief', Karen Armstrong's 'A History of God' and 'The Art of Living' by Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh.

"We have people coming in asking what books he bought. We haven't seen any particular increase in footfalls after his visit but I got hundreds of messages in Facebook and WhatsApp, congratulating me for the moment," says Krishna, adding that other celebrity guests include actors Ramya and Prakash Rai while there are regulars like Ramachandra Guha and the Bhandari brothers.

Rahul had lunch at Koshy's after that. Ask owner Prem Koshy about his reaction to this and he remains unfazed. "From my grandfather's time we have served Presidents, Ambassadors, even the Queen of England. That is history but what hasn't changed is that once you are here, everybody gets served in exactly the same way."

He adds, "A rule of thumb at Koshy's is that we take care of the privacy and confidentiality of all customers. I do not comment on any customer here - who came, what they ate and so on."

Rahul chose to sit in the non-AC room of the restaurant and was shown pictures of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi's visit to the restaurant. It is said that he ordered prawn curry and rice - the same as what he had ordered when he visited the place ten years ago.

 

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