Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Engineer draws up his ward plan

Engineer draws up his ward plan

S Harish makes a pledge to lift the spirit of Nagapura from its decade-old inertia

Odeal D'Souza



"Look there," says S Harish, the new civic leader of Nagapura ward, pointing to the dilapidated playground on the Chord Road. "Were he alive, Dr Rajkumar surely would have disallowed lending his name to such a shame," he says angrily with a sweep of his hand. The playground named after Dr Rajkumar is not fit for play as it is in a ravaged state.
Taking his first ward yatra with DNA after his victory in the recently held civic elections, Harish sounds bitter at the way this pride of place has been treated by his predecessors.
"There was no problem with funds. A sum of Rs4 crore was allocated to turn this two-acre plot into a well-equipped playground. But look at its condition now," he says with a dejected look.
The uneven ground with rubbles thrown in heaps and the rusty iron rods standing forlorn near the drain bisecting the ground and the road tell a story of greed, neglect and insensitivity. The rods were sunk into the ground sometime back for a project to cover the drain which poses danger to children.
As he explains his future plans holding on to a rod, a woman in her 40's approaches the corporator. "I'm Fathima," she introduces herself. "I'm the watch-woman of this ground."
She then points to her children playing around. Fathima says she has not been paid for five years ever since she was assigned the job. "But for my husband's salary, I would have starved," she says. Harish comforts her and says he will look into her problem. "But give me a little time," he adds.
So where's the Rs4 crore gone? "Into someone's pocket, where else?" Harish says bitterly. He will not allow such incidents to be repeated.
A civil engineer, Harish says he is drawing up a plan for his ward's development. Shankar Nagar, part of this ward, is a prime residential area. It has its own playground. There is also a well-maintained park on 9th Main Road of Shankar Nagar.
Harish inherits a ward where modernity rubs shoulders with tradition. Swanky corporate offices, modern restaurants and pubs and dozens of temples, among them the tallest Lord Hanuman temple, give the ward a curious mix. But the problems have an unerring uniformity — water scarcity, garbage piles, drainage in disrepair, lack of security at night and strays all ring a familiar tone.
The newly elected corporator narrates the tale of neglect of this place which would have served as a getaway for work-weary Bangaloreans. The place is surrounded by serrated hills, hillocks and rolling plains.
"I've been witnessing the abuse of this place by authorities for the past two decades, and in a way that prompted me to get into the political field," he says.
As Harish goes around with a number of supporters at his heels, he is greeted with "namaskaras" and an avalanche of complaints. As most complaints revolve around water and pavements, he begs them for a breathing time.
"I'm well aware of the needs of this ward and I'll set them right. My priorities include drinking water and growing greenery especially with planting of Indian species of plants, not eucalyptus or pine," Harish says.
But he is quick to point out his ward's strengths too. Comparatively good roads, a two-acre lush park and an abundant supply of vegetables make residents happy.
Keerti, a homemaker at Mahalakshmipuram junction says, "Mahalakshmi Layout is well connected by BMTC buses to all other parts of the city. We have no grouse on that part."
And many residents believe they are about to witness a revolutionary change because Namma Metro will have a station at Mahalakshmi Layout (Nagapura ward falls in the layout). The Metro station might change the landscape and life here.

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