Friday, February 04, 2005

Blueprint for development

Blueprint for development
Infrastructure projects and economic development are creating a more efficient and aesthetic Bangalore
The Times of India

Bangalore doesn't take much time to outgrow its civic infrastructure. The Outer Ring Road is a case in point. Even as the paint dried on the median of the last of the 64-km stretch to complete the circle, the need for another ring around this one was beginning to be felt. Signal lights popped up at stretches that were not so long ago considered 'lonely'. Residential layouts and the resulting commercial development saw an end to the easy, quick drive the Outer Ring Road was for a while.

The Richmond Circle flyover is another such classic case. Just a few years from completion and there came a need to change the direction and flow of traffic. No longer is it an easy drive right over a busy intersection. And it will not be long before other projects meet with the same fate. With the huge number of people settling here and over 700 vehicles being registered almost every day, this city of opportunity is a challenge for the civic agencies. And by all accounts, creating infrastructure here is a learning process.

Civic infrastructure

A primary concern in the recent past was drinking water. The city saw shortages, especially in the summer months. "The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) initiated the 'unaccounted for water reduction project' that entails bringing down the water lost in distribution in the city to around 15 percent from around the estimated 45 percent presently. A pilot project of this scheme is on, covering around 30,000 connections. After it is successful, we will extend it to the rest of the city and this translates into a saving of around 230 million litres of water daily (MLD) - almost as good as another water project", says S K Pattanayak, Chairman, BWSSB. While the present water supply to the city is 810 MLD, the Board has plans to increase it by 510 MLD over the next five years. "This will be enough to meet the demand then," he says. On the present position, Pattanayak says, "from two hours, the water supply has been increased to four hours every second day. We will maintain this supply through the coming summer months".

Connectivity too is looking up with the flyover projects taking shape. "In future, all our flyovers will be 'mobile flyovers' that can be put up in just one-tenth the time needed for a conventional concrete flyover," says M N Vidyashankar, Commissioner, Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). The BDA is planning two of these flyovers that are made of steel on the eight-lane highway at Hi-tech City, and one at the Magadi Road-Mysore Road junction.

The civic amenities in the city too seem set to see some upturn, thanks to the BDA's latest move. Plans are afoot to develop 107 civic amenities sites. "They will ensure all basic requirements such as educational institutions, banks, fire stations, and petrol pumps are close to your doorstep. We plan to develop another 50 by mid-2005", Vidyashankar says.
The infrastructure development will further get a boost with the planned Peripheral Ring Road around the existing Outer Ring Road.

Projects to look out for…

Some infrastructure and civic amenities planned will make a significant contribution to the development of the city. Here are a few that will make a mark:

Peripheral Ring Road Unaccounted for water reduction project
Development of more city lakes and parks
North corridor
Hi-tech city
Cauvery Water Scheme – Stage IV Phase II

Aesthetics and lung spaces

Parks and lakes being developed have lent aesthetic appeal that blends well with the glass-fronted buildings that stand testimony to the city's commercial growth. The tourism sector, too, could benefit with lakes turning into picnic spots within the city. With the city being a transit center, this augurs well for tourists.

Attractive and user-friendly bus shelters have been another striking presence. "Polished granite benches with backrest, 14-feet high ceiling, ample lighting and walkthrough bus shelters make it convenient for commuters and contribute to the illumination around", says M S Jaikumar, Empire Publicity Service, who plans to introduce audio tapes highlighting the life history of literary award winners of the State being played at some shelters. "This will highlight the cultural history of the State and make it interesting for tourists waiting for buses there", he says.

Efficient infrastructure and a healthy economy make a city a preferred destination. While IT nourished the economy, the civic infrastructure is now falling in place.

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