Thursday, February 18, 2010

Youth set agenda for civic planners

Youth set agenda for civic planners

They want sleepy Chickpet to be more vibrant with all comforts of modern living

Chickpet's civic wards are all business and no play for the local youth. Despite its long history, the place lacks the modern trappings of a quality life which the youth yearn for. They find the traditional
set-up stifling. Civic agencies must work overtime to make provisions for them, writes Bhargavi Kerur

Bhargavi Kerur



Chickpet has a curious mix of business buzz and lung space. But it lacks vibrancy that adds zing to young lives. Not surprisingly, the youth here carp at the lack of quality time and nightlife.
Long before Bangalore became the 'byte basket' of Asia, Chickpet-Cottonpet happened to be the business centre where even royal families used to shop for special occasions. But today, the Gen Y finds it all a trifle boring. Instead of history, they want facilities essential for a modern life.
The present Chickpet constituency envelops Sudham Nagar, Dharmaraya Swamy Temple, Sunkenahalli, Vishveshwara Puram (VV Puram), Siddapura, Hombegowda Nagar and parts of Jayanagar.
"Modern lifestyle is missing here," cribs Sharanya Jain, a college student residing in VV Puram. "We do not have enough restaurants to hang out. There is a Coffee Day outlet, and a pizza joint. There ends the modern tale," she says dejectedly.
A visitor finds Chickpet constituency nurturing two different lifestyles. The old areas of Chickpet, Cottonpet, Cubbonpet, and Sunkenahalli have houses standing check-by-jowl leaving little leeway for entertainment or open space. The areas of VV Puram and parts of Jayanagar, on the other hand, have a great many educational institutions but lack recreation facilities.
The Lalbagh Botanical Garden provides huge lung space to VV Puram and Jayanagar but youth find the place sleepy. "We find mostly tourists or health-conscious elders jogging in the park," says Ajay Singh, a student and resident of VV Puram. "My friends and I want to go once in a while on a binge but we find little scope for that here. So we motor down to MG Road, Brigade Road," says Ajay.
Sharanya and her friends of VV Puram have similar complaints. "We have very few options here for affordable and clean eateries and trendy hangouts. CCD and pizza outlets are expensive, so we end up eating chat from the wayside carts," says she representing them.
There are no malls like Garuda, Bangalore Central or Forum here. There are no multiplexes either. "Since Bangalore has grown into a big city, it is expected to provide youth a cosmopolitan life which is sadly lacking in our area," says Nitin SH, a finance analyst and resident of Jayanagar 1st Block.
"We need a multiplex, a theatre, a sports ground and a club. For these, we now go to Jayanagar or city centre," he adds.
"Our place is urban for the namesake but it goes to sleep at nine," says Shilpi Rajan, a technology hand. "Agreed, Bangalore as a whole doesn't allow much nightlife like Mumbai or Delhi. But it's expected to have shops and services open at least till 10pm. Isn't it?" she asks. "But in these parts, the vehicles on the roads melt away to a trickle by 9pm."
As nightlife is absent, security is a big question. "I never go out alone at night," says Shilpi.
This should have proved a safe proposition for the residents. But it is not so.
"Crowded streets have proved risky," points out Nitin, a young professional. "Look at the Pune blast. Police patrol happens in and around Botanical Gardens, not beyond."
Crowded alleys have increased traffic woes. "Traffic management in our city as a whole is messy," says Achyuta Bharadwaj, a young entrepreneur finding solace in the general want.
"There is no will on the part of the police and civic authorities to bring a modicum of discipline on roads and markets. We all suffer this more in the crowded lanes and alleys. Messy, noisy and polluted are my areas. My white shirt gets dirty within an hour on the road. And honking has become a pastime for many drivers. Central Chickpet has become unbearable," says Bharadwaj.
Residents blame the civic authorities for lack of sanitation in many parts of Chickpet. "Lack of space is pointed out as the reason for irregular clearance of garbage and other sanitary factors but then the Palike should have thought of it before it allowed construction everywhere," says Ambika Soni, a resident of Cottonpet.
Local leaders say provision of modern facilities seems unlikely in an area like Chickpet since it lacks space. But youth point out that many constructions could have been planned well for space. "For instance, bridges are made like matchboxes with no thought given to geometry, space and aesthetic sense. A bridge could support a lot of parking if it is planned with the city's needs in mind," says Ramesh Natholi, a young engineering student.

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