Thursday, January 28, 2010

Squalor in SHOPPERS' PARADISE

Squalor in SHOPPERS' PARADISE

Shivajinagar, the heart of Bangalore, is a Cinderella whose worth is not counted or rewarded by the authorities. Its neighbouring Commercial Street, and feeder areas that contribute much to the municipal chest are in a pitiable state, eagerly awaiting a saviour in the coming civic polls, says Shwetha S

Everybody visits Shivajinagar and Commercial Street but nobody cares

Shwetha S



The Shivajinagar constituency comprises seven BBMP wards — Jayamahal, Bharatinagar, Halsoor, Sampangiram Nagar, Vasantnagar, Commercial Street and Kumarakrupa Road. But it is the core Shivajinagar with its flourishing business areas like Commercial Street, MG Road, Brigade Road that help the BBMP earn its bread with the highest collection of commerce and property tax. Again, Shivajinagar is the transport nerve centre that redistributes men and machines to various parts of the city.
The core is socialist at heart. For it is here the young and old, the sick and healthy, the poor and the rich, the employers and employed, come shopping. No visit to Bangalore is complete without a tour of Shivajinagar and the surrounding commercial hubs.
A kilometre and half to the West comes Vasatnagar. Here one suddenly faces a different world where top educational institutions, malls and shaded alleys reign. Students from the society's creamy layer hang out in Sigma Mall, Infinitea tea bar, Pizza Hut and half-a-dozen other bistros. They discuss anything but politics: cinema, cricket, job market, career, friendship and love. And, each one is well 'wheeled', with modern bikes, some of them with fanciful modifications that generate unseemly sound and seem to echo the owners' thrill of adventure.
More often than not, the youths out to get their fill of snacks and oxygen, cross over to the nearby Millers Road, a residential area surrounding the Cantonment Railway station, where hawkers sell chats and snacks. They are popular with the young brigade.
But their roaring bikes with funny horns, though innocuous pranks, have been a cause of complaint for the residents in this locality.
"It's a nightmare for us. On one side, students come in large numbers blocking the waysides with their bikes and cars, and on the other, hordes of autorickshaws are parked haphazardly. They seem to care little about police," says Meera Kumari, a resident of Millers Road.
"Why blame us? We are innocent," says Riya Ratnakar, a student enjoying chat on the Millers Road. "We normally come here because there are good chats available. Yes, the young bikers do stunts like the wheeling. But you better ask them for more info," she tells this reporter. The search for the boys ends at Kumarakrupa Road. "What stunt," asks a tall commerce graduate, Rahul Sharma. It is a good life here, say his friends.
But Ashika, a student who has come down to Bangalore for the first time from Sweden, tries to correct their view.
"Think of the foreigners who come here and what image will they carry home if people here don't have any traffic sense and mountains of garbage rot everywhere," she asks.
Neighbouring Bharatinagar, part of Shivajinagar constituency, is a study in contrast. A shack town, all problems associated with a low-lying, slum-dwelling area are pronounced here.
"We are sought only when election comes," says Rahman Faiz, who runs an auto-workshop at Thimmaiah Road. "You must come here during rainy days to see the situation," he says.
But, it is not just Bharatinagar, it came out loud and clear that piles of garbage dumped by hotels and residents on the roadsides are the bane of Shivajinagar, Halsoor, and Sampangiram Nagar. On this score, the high-profile Commercial Street joins the lowly Bharatinagar.
"We are most troubled by the sanitary problem in this area. Look at the perennially leaking sewage pipe. It floods the roads. After after several complaints, BWSSB comes and mends it only to be back to square one the very next day," says Afdul Raufuddir, a resident of Commercial Street.
"What to talk," says Pratigna, a post-graduate student of Mahaveer Jain College, who cautiously measures her steps to avoid the slush and water on the street. "If customers are treated like this by the municipal authorities, God save them," she says angrily.
The resilient youth, however, take it in their stride. Pramod Mehta and his three friends gleefully derive fun from the road situation. "We come for a drink and some shopping, yaar," says Mehta.
But, Ajay Motwani, vice-president of Commercial Street Shoppers' Association, is crestfallen when his discusses his proud street's present state. "Shoppers have begun to avoid this street, and we can't blame them," says he

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