Mission-2022: A makeover for NGEF land

Mission-2022: A makeover for NGEF land

Reimagining the vast NGEF land as an open public, green space and a convergence hub for art, science, technology, heritage and more

For years, the sprawling 105-acre New Government Electrical Factory (NGEF) land in Baiyappanahalli had remained a monumental mess. Its once-proud industrial heritage continuously chipped away, the land had to be rescued, reimagined, and repurposed. Can the just announced Mission-2022 spell that transformative makeover?

A tree park, cultural space, industrial museum, or all rolled into one? The Mission statement, articulated by the Chief Minister does not get into the details of what the land should be. But the intent is clear, and Bengalureans can heave a big sigh of relief.

Yet to emerge is a concrete plan. But urban architects and designers familiar with the landscape are unanimous that the 65-acre dense forest within should be retained as it is. This could be a much-required lung space for the city’s Eastern parts, now on a concretisation overdrive.

Industrial sheds

An estimated 6 lakh sq ft of the land is covered by industrial sheds. Three years back, a spot visit by a DH team had exposed how the old machinery and much of the spares were carted away after months of unregulated auctioning. Hundreds of electric motors, vintage ceiling fans and machinery were lined up for more auctions. Old factory pick-up trucks were left abandoned, rusted, and masked by the wilderness. Salvaging whatever that remains could be the only way to build an exhibition of sorts of the city’s lost industrial heritage.

The sheds could be repurposed as exhibition centres, sports arenas, or museums that showcase the state’s rich repertoire of traditional arts and crafts, suggests an urban planner, preferring anonymity. Indeed, Mission-2022 makes a mention of this plan as “Bengaluru Culture, Heritage and Crafts Museum.”

Cultural hub

The details are missing. But the emphasis is on creating ‘contemporary public recreational spaces and cultural events hubs’ inside the NGEF premises. The objective is to build display and workspace avenues for artists, artisans, and other creative professionals.

The forested area, with big fully grown trees, is likely to remain largely untouched. But elevated pathways through the park is an idea being put forth. As an architect explains, “These elevated walkways, built with bamboo, could wind through the wilderness, giving people a unique experience.”

Terminal connectivity

The Third Railway Coaching Terminal on the Western side of the NGEF boundary offers scope for another at-grade walkway through the open grounds inside the factory premises. Mobility experts have suggested that this pedestrian link would be the shortest way to connect the Terminal with the Baiyappanahalli Rail and Metro Stations, both located on the South-Eastern side of NGEF land.

The Terminal is scheduled for a February 2021 launch, gradually bringing in more crowds to the area. A mobility link walkway to the Metro / Railway Stations through the repurposed NGEF land could spark curiosity about the place. “It is a big opportunity for change, and will benefit the entire Bengaluru East,” notes S Raghu, the local C V Raman Nagar legislator.

Past glory

Incorporated as a company with German collaborators in 1956, NGEF was once a leader in pumps, electric motors and switch gears. The pump sets and motors it manufactured ensured continuous water supply for farms, boosting agricultural production. But after incurring heavy losses, the factory shut down in 2002.

NGEF originally owned about 240 acres of land. The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) acquired part of it to build its depot and Baiyappanahlli Metro Terminal, while the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) placed a bus depot there.

To allow access to the coaching terminal from the far end, the South Western Railways (SWR) is keen on acquiring a stretch of the NGEF land. An access road and a building to house ticket counters are on the railways’ agenda. How far all these plans sync with a reworked factory campus remains to be seen.

The big question on everyone’s lips is this: Will Mission 2022 deliver what it promises on time?

Proposals

About 65 acres of the NGEF campus is a dense forest. Architects have suggested elevated walkways, built with bamboo, winding through this wilderness giving people a unique experience.

The sprawling campus area was about 250 acres. The land shrunk with parcels acquired by BMRCL, KSRTC, and BMTC.

A walkway through the campus is the shortest route linking the new Third Coaching Terminal and the Baiyappanahalli Railway / Metro Stations.