Thursday, January 07, 2010

Chickpet awaits the saviour

Chickpet awaits the saviour
Sandeep Moudgal

The oldest business district of B’lore has the most ancient infrastructure too. Deccan Herald takes a look at lack of facilities.


With elections to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) fast approaching, the Chickpet ward under Gandhinagar Assembly constituency has come under sharp focus. This trader-dominated area has few, if any civic amenities.

Perhaps the oldest business district of Bangalore, Chickpet, known for its shops selling silk sarees, has a history going back to the 6th Century. It is said Kempe Gowda, using four pairs of oxen ploughed the land in four directions from the point at the junction of Chickpet and Doddapet in what is the first master plan for Bangalore.

The four tracks drawn by the oxen, became four important market roads. Later, parallel roads were formed and the different petes (markets) emerged to cater to different trades. The petes are: Nagarthapete, Akkipete, Ragipete, Balepete, Aralepete and Thigalarapete. Much later, Upparapete, Kurubarapete, Sunnakalpete, Golllarapete, Ganigarapete, Sultanpete, Cubbonpete came up.

Although it is among the City’s oldest areas, Chickpet is perhaps the biggest contributor to the State exchequer. And yet, it has been apparently marginalised in terms of development.

“MLAs and MPs come and go, but none of them have taken an interest in developing the ward,” asserts Sampath Raj, president of the Dyes and Chemicals Merchants’ Association. Raj, a trader here since the last 40 years, says that apart from civic troubles, even law and order has taken a backseat in Chickpet.

From potholes to craters, ancient drains and water supply pipelines to “irregular” garbage clearence, problems pile up daily for the people in Chickpet. With no proper footpaths for pedestrian crossings in the main roads of Chickpet, citizens are forced to walk on the streets braving heavy vehicle traffic.

BVK Iyengar Road

A walk along BVK Iyengar road confirms the problems narrated by the trading community. Businessmen are in perennial fear of losing their customers in this area.

“Look at the stretch of road here in front of my shop. It was built nearly 20 years ago. Compare this to BVK Iyengar road that was recently asphalted and still has craters that are at least one foot deep. Who would like to drive on it?” wonders G R Prasad, who owns one of the oldest glass and plywood stores in Chickpet.

The old drainage system and the overflowing sullage water, the narrow roads and the traffic jams have taken their toll on the businesses. The drainage in Chickpet is ancient. Recently, while concreting roads, civic agencies blocked even those drains, complained Parameshwara, an employee in a shop.

Yet, Sajjan Raj Mehta, co-chairman of Karnataka Hosiery and Garment Association co-chairman, strikes an optimistic note. “We need Councillors who can constantly keep in touch with the local MLAs and BBMP officials, apart from the media. If a person with a track record of getting things done is elected in the coming election, that will certainly help in developing the area,” he said.

In the last two-three months, there has been a slight improvement with BBMP officials showing some alacrity in repairing and maintaining the roads, Mehta observed. But only a proactive Councillor can save the Ward, he feels.

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