Thursday, June 17, 2010

Planners are to be blamed for traffic woes

Planners are to be blamed for traffic woes

Team DNA. Bangalore

The development in Bangalore is solely based on land value and this is fundamentally wrong. Development has many factors, but in Bangalore, it is skewed towards places where land value is less, thus creating hot spots that lack many basic facilities, says award-winning architect Mohan S Rao.
Rao is the first Indian to be bestowed with the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) Award Asia Pacific Region. Last month, he received the award in China. The IFLA president's award was given to Integrated Design, a Bangalore-based firm headed by Mohan, for the work carried out over the past six years in landscape restoration and interpretation of the world heritage site, Hampi.
Mohan believes authorities could have avoided a controversy over TDR in south Bangalore. He is critical of the administration for creating a situation where "decisions are taken, made and thrust on people without public debate". A public debate is necessary to help the affected parties take an informed decision. Without debate, people will believe the authorities who come asking for a portion of a property.
The emotional attachment to a property can be handled only by a transparent process, says Mohan. Before even announcing the TDR scheme in a particular area, it is important that a technical data is generated after a proper study. What we need is the process of advocacy that includes education of people, propagation of the concept, which has been arrived at after a clinical examination of the proposed project. Many a time, after a scientific study, one may find that the particular road is, in fact, underutilised and does not need widening at all, feels Mohan. So, the question of TDR does not arise at all.
The authorities' plan to widen roads to accommodate more vehicles. But Mohan wonders about the 40% of city's residents people who cannot even afford a vehicle. He says the city needs a comprehensive policy that takes into consideration the mobility of all its residents. Planners always ignore the crucial factor of mobility — that nearly 50% of people walk to commute.
So the question that arises is whether the absence of mass rapid transport is contributing to the high number of vehicles? It can be the reason, feels Mohan. Many Indian cities have reformed public transport system to reduce vehicles on the road. He points out that the BMTC is not at fault; it is the planners who are to be blamed. The BMTC only operates buses and the city's development is not in its hands.
He says that the TDR debate is going to change the way Bangalore looks at itself and grows. He says there should be a public debate on all civic projects.

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