Friday, January 29, 2010

A shopping experience gone sour, almost

A shopping experience gone sour, almost

Shwetha S



Trendy Commercial Street may not be Bangalore's Fifth Avenue but it is the city's ultimate shopping experience. The young converge here to shop branded goods.
At any point of time, you can see a mix of locals, young workers of the sunrise industries, and foreigners trooping in or coming out of shops that display a variety of things. Crowded, yes, but it is where the quality-conscious customers head for when they need anything from Rs20 trinket to 24-carat diamond.
This pride of the city is, however, surrounded by pathetic civic conditions. Shoppers and residents say the civic agencies have made the adjoining Kamaraj Street a training ground for diggers and amateur road makers. Kamaraj Road is vital to the vibrancy of Commercial Street.
"This street gives much to the civic coffers and to the government but is treated shabbily. Half the street is covered with debris and pipes and cables and the other half by men and machines. Those living alongside the street have no space to move about," says Vani Kumari, a resident of Kamaraj Road.
If residents are unhappy, businessmen are resigned to their fate. Businessman Pradeep Kumar says no matter who gets elected their fate is going to remain unchanged. "Recently," Kumar points out, "the Palike started work on constructing a culvert, blocking the approach road for vehicles from all directions. The shoppers had to take extra two kilometres via the parallel road and Halasoor Road to come here. Local MLA Roshan Baig had promised us the completion of work in three months but it will take any number of months."
After a pause, Kumar adds, "Our business has been hit badly. Who cares?"
Now, listen to students' woes.
"My friends and I usually travel by bus. After the construction began, civic workers have demolished the bus shelter on Kamaraj Road. Now to get a bus, we've to travel two kilometres. In this maddening traffic, it is no easy proposition," says Sumana N, a commerce student.
If normal days are bad, weekends are worse. "In the absence of parking discipline and space, what little road remains is strewn with automobiles of all sorts. Residents and shop owners have no leeway to go about their business," says Arjun Prasad. "Why should residents suffer? Parking arrangement is the job of the police. We don't blame shoppers, after all they must park their vehicles somewhere," Prasad reasons.
The curse of Commercial Street is not limited to traffic and parking horror, says Pradeep Kumar, who is also the president of the local Traders, Temples and Residents' Welfare Association. "Kamaraj Road is the main approach road to Commercial Street, but, for the past five years, this feeder road lay damaged without mending and resurfacing."
Children and senior citizens often trip over the debris and fall into craters at Commercial Street and Kamaraj Road, adds Kumar.
Bangaloreans have tremendous patience and they suffer in silence. Will the new civic body deliver us from this hell?

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