Monday, October 26, 2009

Lost glory, losing greenery

Lost glory, losing greenery
G Manjusainath and

Once upon a time, Jayanagar was rated as one of the best layouts in the country. The almost half-a-century old layout reigned supreme as a true flagbearer of the City’s “Pensioner’s Paradise” tag. Not any more!

Today, Jayanagar has pensioners living in fear due to the rising crime in the area. The Metro Rail construction has been steadily eating into its famed greenery, while often unattended garbage heaps, lack of parking space, age-old sewerage pipes have eclipsed Jayanagar’s beauty.

Tree felling

Its wide, tree-landed avenues, beautiful gardens, shopping complexes and designer houses were the sources of envy. But much of the greenery is set to fade due to the ongoing Metro Rail work. While the local MLA Vijay Kumar says that Jayanagar might lose 184 trees, the resident welfare associations have fixed the number at 181, not a single tree more.

“If a single tree more than 181 is cut, we will not spare the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation. We agreed to lose 181 trees after an assurance by the BMRCL authorities and the government that double the number would be planted in Jayanagar,” said Keshava Kumar, the general secretary of the Federation of Residents’ Welfare Association, a conglomeration of 14 RWAs.

Rising crime

But environment is only one of the many concerns of the residents of Jayanagar. Rising criminal activities is a big cause for worry. Even when the murder of an old couple, Vasantha and Venkata Rangan in January this year remains unsolved, the residents were shocked by a triple murder. A roadside paani-poori vendor, Govinda had allegedly murdered Jayashree, Satyabhama and Vijayalakshmi in the same month. Chain-snatching cases are frequent, while rash driving, drag-races and wheeling prevent old-age people from venturing out.

“We have been complaining about the cases of chain snatching, prostitution and other crimes in our areas but there is no response from the authorities. We now feel that we are left to our fate, as we are not in the priority list of police,” lamented a resident, Vasudevan.

“Crimes are increasing, because there is a lack of communication among the neighbours. People are least bothered about their neighbourhood and do not want to develop friendship. To develop a good neighbourhood we want to strengthen the Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) but these days people are shying away from becoming members,” explained H Vishwanatha Rao, the president of the Jayanagar 4th Block RWA.

Commercial problems

Jayanagar’s growth has turned the layout into a major market place with a number of malls, shops, hotels coming up on many of the roads. But this increase in business activities has created the problems of illegal construction, lack of parking space, huge kitchen waste, piling of garbage and choked sewerage lines.

Several complaints by residents to the BBMP have apparently yielded zero results. Now they are trying the Right To Information (RTI) route to extract information, where again the challenge is that of incomplete information.

VP Bahubali Raju, the secretary of Jayanagar 5th Block RWA complained that the Shalini Ground is in bad shape, which needs to be taken care of. All the commercial activities there should be stopped and should be kept reserved for only sports activities.

He added that the choked storm water drain and sewerage lines between 5th Cross to 40th Cross of 5th Block of Jayanagar leads to flooding in the area. Transformers on the road and the road-side eatery invite accidents, he pointed out.

Jayanagar also faces the problem of uprooting of trees and felling of branches on the road during rains. N Lakshmikanth, the secretary of 6th Block RWA suggested that the BBMP should identify such trees and branches, which may fall during rains.

Metro woes at South End circle

Poornima Nataraj

The Metro Rail project on RV Road and Nanda Theatre Road in Jayanagar had caused quite a stir a few months ago when the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) occupied a part of Lalbagh area to construct a Metro station.

BMRCL also proposed to construct another metro station within 900 meters at the Lakshman Rau Park by taking off the boulevard filled with green canopy. But despite severe protests from the green groups and residents around South End Circle, the project work went ahead.

Today, the area around South End Circle near the Lakshman Rau Park looks like a war zone, observed a local resident, Chandra Ravikumar. "I have literally grown up watching Lakshman Rau Park. Now a major portion of the park has been destroyed. The Metro project has become a goldmine for contractors and builders in the name of so-called development work," she said. The Metro project has stirred a hornet's nest with many residents complaining about the drilling work in this area, which continues till midnight.
Subbiah, a businessman from the same area, said that he was not much of a green person but the Metro project had provoked him to address the environmental issues. "Our forefathers had created such a beautiful environment on the stretch of Lakshman Rau Boulevard. It is Asia's longest green stretch spanning 2.3 kms. This has been attacked in the name of infrastructure development," he lamented.

Loopholes in Metro project

The Environment Support Group along with many other supporters had filed lawsuits against BMRCL about the Metro alignment through the area. BMRCL proposed to build a metro station around the Bangalore Hospital stretch by occupying a few commercial establishments.

A group of owners along this stretch are unhappy about the alleged lack of transparency. "As per the initial notification, BMRCL wanted to occupy a portion of Bangalore Hospital for the Metro station. Now this has been ruled out in the new notification. We are losing 65 per cent of our property because of the station," said a petitioner.



In Conversation

G Manjusainath

Vijaya Kumar, MLA
Jayanagar


Crime is rising in
Jayanagar. Elderly people in particular are feeling
insecure.
It is true that some unpleasant incidents have happened. We are in touch with the police to act tough on criminal elements. We have requested the police to heighten security in Jayanagar. We also want a system called ‘monitoring of the elderly people’ so that their security could be ensured.

How do you intend to maintain greenery in Jayanagar?
To my knowledge, 184 trees would be felled for the project. But we have already planted saplings of 350 trees. We want to grow a thick jungle in our area to compensate for the loss of trees.

There are complaints of flooding during rains.
People say old
underground sewerage lines need replacement.
When the Jayanagar Layout was formed, the population was low and accordingly a low capacity sewerage line was installed. As the population grew by manifold, there is need to replace the sewerage lines.

What are the other
projects on your agenda?
Upgradation of the Jayanagar stadium, skating space and an e-library at Shalini Ground, trained doctors and nurses for the ventilators in Jayanagar General Hospital, and a separate dialysis unit in Jayanagar.

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