Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Laptop Brigade still loves IT But residents lament over pigeon-hole apartments and lack of greenery

Laptop Brigade still loves IT But residents lament over pigeon-hole apartments and lack of greenery

The BTM Layout constituency is one of the favourite locations of techies. Yet, the migrant youth are upset over frequent traffic snarls on the roads leading to Electronic City and ITPL, reports Monica Jha. Poor police patrolling, early closure of food and entertainment joints, high rentals and lack of Vajra buses are the other problems they face

Monica Jha



After the Marathahalli-Sarjapur Road belt, BTM Layout hosts the highest concentration of migrants. The reason is not far to seek. The assembly constituency is equidistant from the city centre and Electronic City.
Residential areas like Koramangala, BTM Stage I and Stage II, and Adugodi are favourites with young IT professionals. This makes the area the 'youth-istan' of Bangalore. After the last civic elections, the area has undergone a paradigm shift in infrastructure development, and social and lifestyle changes. Forum Mall is the flagship point of the constituency and Koramangala has probably a record number of restaurants per sq km area. The recent addition is the elevated expressway at the Silk Board junction.
BTM is Byrasandra, Tavarekere and Madiwala Layout. Strangely, Byrasandra and Tavarekere are now out of the constituency. With a voter strength of 1,01,180, it has always had a turnout of above 50%. This is a pointer to the active participation of outsiders in polling. The constituency saw a 66.3% turnout way back in 1978. Currently, it has eight civic wards.
The constituency houses many IT establishments and thousands of IT employees. They have contributed significantly towards Bangalore getting the 'India's IT capital' tag. Despite this, there has not been deliverance. The value-adds to the city's revenue, image and changing lifestyle are in vain, feel the young crowd of the area as they have been suffering several problems.
With the IT hub on the one side and the rest of the city on the other, the constituency has turned into a thoroughfare that feeds the traffic to and from the Electronic City and ITPL.
"Huge through-traffic is a major problem in this area. BTM Layout, Koramangala and Madiwala form the corridor that connects the city to the Electronic City. Heavy traffic to Electronic City from various parts adds to the pressure on the available road space and compounds traffic snarls and pollution. The traffic flow ought to be planned and directed. This is the most pressing demand of this area," said P Nayana, a software engineer with Wipro.
With the IT/ITeS sector employing a massive women workforce, the flexible and odd working hours put spotlight on their safety and security.
"There are thousands of women like me who return home late from work. I not at all feel safe. There is no police patrolling and I have no clue what to do in case of an emergency. Apart from eve-teasing, mugging and other petty crimes are prevalent in the area during night," said Medha Bhatnagar, an employee with Deutsche Bank.
A constant refrain among the youth is the lack of option in recreation facilities. "The massive young crowds in BTM Layout hardly have options for recreation and fine dining after a hard day's work. For entertainment or food, they have to go either to MG Road or Koramangala," said an Infosys engineer Ganesh Kumar.
The boom also has a long shadow. To cash in on the youngsters' needs, house owners have built match-box like buildings to rent out with no concern for space or comfort. "The area has been transformed into a huge colony of concrete blocks and Madiwala Lake is shrinking," said Soumya Sreenath, a resident of BTM Stage II. "There is hardly any greenery around and I believe that it must be affecting the health of the residents," she said.
"A residential area needs greenery for health and aesthetics. I may not really have time to walk around in a park but I love to look at the reassuring greenery," Elizabeth, a BPO employee and resident of Koramangala, said. Many complain of unreal rental demands.
A mix of residential/commercial establishments and illegal parking problems haunts the areas. Employees and visitors of commercial establishments usually park their vehicles in front of houses, making movement difficult for residents and also blocking the traffic.
The techie population is also an easy pick for IT paraphernalia. Laptop thefts are a problem specific to this area. "There have been several cases of laptop thefts from houses in our locality," said Vinutha M, a BPO employee and resident of BTM Stage II.
The young professionals have shown eco concern and want to encourage public transport. "There should be more Vajra buses on Electronic City route, even during the non-peak hours. Many of us working in the IT sector have flexible timings and sometimes start late to work. Vajra buses are the best travel option for us. In case of insufficient buses, people would add a few extra cars to the already heavy traffic, which could be disastrous," said Jinea, software engineer with HP.

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