Saturday, February 20, 2010

So close yet so far from urban amenities

So close yet so far from urban amenities

Residents seek space for social dialogue and fun as Vijayanagar wades through waves of development

Vijayanagar, a supposedly happening place, bewails development thrust from above with no concern for popular feelings. The young denounce lack of avenues to express their creativity while the peripheral wards still lead a rural life mostly untouched by civic amenities. Local leaders must do something to give the residents a better life, writes Rohith BR

Rohith BR

First it was the pedestrian subway, now it's the Namma Metro. The social life of Vijayanagar is in a shambles, and the youth are not amused to find that their only hangout space, the market area, has been wrested from them by mindless developers.
"They consider us as guinea pigs," says Rohit R, a young employee with a financial firm and a resident of Hosahalli. "To spend their energy, youth need avenues like sports grounds, auditoriums, meeting grounds or clubs, cinema, et al. Forget about these. This market area, where we used to gather and spin yarn, was first taken away by the subway that crawled like turtle for years. Now the Metro work has done the damage again. Driving space on Vijayanagar Main Road has shrunk leading to traffic overflows onto the service roads that skirt the market area," says Rohit.
With their favourite gathering ground lost in the flow and cacophony of traffic, he and his friends feel that yearning for facilities like a good theatre, mall, or a garden restaurant will be like asking for the moon.
The Gen past and the Gen next agree on one thing: Vijayanagar and the market area grew up together like twins and the evenings were lively for families who used to meet in the streets to exchange pleasantries. That's all gone. "Yes, we have lost touch with others," is the common wail now.
In the 1970s, Vijayanagar's residents were mostly employees of firms such as AMCO, BHEL and KIMCO located along the Mysore Road. "Their families used to spend evenings in the market area and Hosahalli Park. Now with urbanisation creeping in, space for such a meetings is diminishing," says Shankar K, a member of Vijayanagara Nagarika Vedike.
"Even youth from Kempapura Agrahara, Hosahalli, Attiguppe, Hampi Nagar, Bapuji Nagar, Deepanjali Nagar and Gali Anjenaya Temple used to come here," recalls Ramesh Kumar, a young sales professional.
"Now we've to motor down to Jayanagar to find a good place for shopping on weekends. And for movies, we must go up to PVR Cinemas in Koramangala or INOX in the Central Business District," says Vinayaka N, a student.
Some youth view it as the result of changing times and lifestyles. The work style and lifestyle have taken the time frame off the general life because flextime has come in vogue now. That's fine.
"But, if you have taken away our evenings, give us nightlife," says Ramesh Kumar, a young sales professional. Sindhu Raju, a resident, is more worried about the parking problem, hitherto unknown.
Members of the Vedike say they have no complaints about road infrastructure. "Vedike makes sure that roads are re-laid properly whenever digging works are carried out by civic agencies," says Deepak K, a member.
While Vijayanagar displays the urban trappings, the same is not true of Bapuji Nagar, Deepanjali Nagar and Gali Anjenaya Temple wards. They still wear the veil of rural backwardness as far as civic amenities are concerned. Lack of space and unplanned house constructions have led to infrastructure chaos there.
Anil Bhagyaraj, a resident of Bapujinagar ward and a business man, wonders why the civic authorities are going to concrete the roads. "With no proper drainage connectivity associated with such roads, it'll not only affect the water table but also spark floods in this low-lying area," says he. Others residents agree.
For Leena B Shindhe, a resident of Attiguppe and HR professional, lack of a proper petrol bunk in her constituency is the main worry. "The 5km stretch between Deepanjali Nagar and Magadi Road, which is the main road of the constituency, does not have a single petrol bunk. The only bunk is at Attiguppe which is located farther," she says.
The constituency is facing such problems despite the presence of Karnataka's strongman in politics, Siddaramaiah and popular leader V Somanna who have their residences there. Vijayanagar is also home to a host of artistes.
Former minister Somanna, who had represented the Vijayanagar area as MLA under the Govindrajnagar constituency, resents being referred to as leader of Vijayanagar. He belongs to Bangalore and Karnataka, if you don't know.


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