Friday, February 12, 2010

They have faith and nothing else

They have faith and nothing else

Named after the Goddess of wealth, Mahalakshmi Layout has forfeited its Gen X's rights to a full life annexing lands meant for their well-being. Today, the constituency with six civic wards does not know where to look for land. While faith has broadened the minds of people here, the roads are pathetically narrow, writes MK Madhusoodan

Road chaos in Mahalakshmi Layout acute when Gods are taken around during festivals

MK Madhusoodan

Nobody knows when and how Mahalakshmi Layout assembly constituency became a divine land of temples from being a safe haven for the city's underworld operators. So numerous are the temples here that in a radius of 20 metres, you will find at least 10 temples. This scenic place is also the preferred location for film and TV crews.
The thriving business of furnace oil being used to adulterate petrol had its base here. Most arm-twisters had a hand in it. But now, one look around the place will convince a casual visitor that it has earned a divine aura. From Maramma to Ayyappa temples, there are shrines for every God in Hindu mythology here. Overlooking West of Chord Road from a hillock is the Iskcon temple. But the most famous and revered among the shrines is the huge Anjaneya temple near the entrance to the Mahalakshmipuram.
There are old timers who claim that some of the temples were built on the lands encroached upon by influential people long ago. But over the years, people in the area have become spiritually inclined. The long queues of devotees thronging the temples on auspicious days are ample proof that people had long forgotten the past.
While Mahalakshmi Layout was formed by the then City Improvemt trust Board in the 1960s, others largely comprise privately developed housing colonies. While Chord Road is the lifeline of the constituency, Basaveshwaranagar area has witnessed the real estate boom in the past few years.
Nandini Layout was formed out of gomala land (grazing land for cattle and sheep). "There were once nearly 200 acres of land in this valley. The housing complex built by BDA was given to various government offices, public sector banks, insurance companies and financial institutions," says P Ramachandra, a resident of Saraswathipuram.
The fringes of this layout, modelled on similar ones in Singapore, are dotted with slums. "But the 'slums' have become posher than the BDA layout. They have concrete roads and their houses present a grand look. Many of the residents there ride Hondas and Skodas.
But, don't think local youth are amused and happy. V Vikramaditya Singh, who could be the representative case, feels let down. "We have absolutely no facility for entertainment and sports. A proposed shopping complex remains on paper. When we need to go for shopping, we head to the neighbouring localities like Basaveshwaranagar or Rajajinagar. We do have several showrooms in the adjacent colony but they are not in our locality," says he.
"The young need certain facilities that their elders did not have such as supermarkets selling global brands, western fast food outlets, and lifestyle stores," he adds.
G Virat Singh, another resident of Nandini Layout, points to the nub of the problem. "Lands earmarked for civic facilities were allotted to the State Trading Corporation and National Textile Corporation. Similarly, land for playgrounds too has been annexed for commercial purposes."
"We didn't have a local representative for years. An elected corporator will give us a platform to voice our concerns and demand better facilities. Garbage should be regularly cleared so that our roads and surroundings remain clean," says Ashwini Rao, a student of RV College of Engineering, and resident of Basaveshwarnagar, third block, third stage.
"We need good roads and clean drains. Potholes re-emerge a few days after tarring. That speaks volumes about the quality of work and materials used. Drains must be cleaned so that we don't have to deal with waterlogging in our garage and compounds during next monsoon," says Mitul Mehta, a student of Jain College, residing in LIC Colony, Basaveshwarnagar.
"The arterial roads remain narrow, especially those leading to Nandini Layout. But, for once, nobody can put the blame on civic authorities. Resistance of the local residents and political interference have prevented the widening of roads. Nobody wants to yield an inch of land and yet they all want wide roads," says K Srinivas, a resident of BHEL Layout lying next to the Outer Ring Road. "The problem is acute during festivals in temples," Srinivas says. Metro rail too has contributed to the congestion now.


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