Thursday, June 03, 2010

Vittal Mallya Road shows way ahead

Vittal Mallya Road shows way ahead

New-look stretch with a European touch will be opened today

A private initiative has transformed this potholed and waterlogged stretch into a beautiful path. It is pedestrian-friendly and showcases global standards for others to follow. And the roadside businesses may bounce back, writes PK Surendran

PK Surendran



'This part of the road is brought to you by UB-Prestige' should have been the sign board on the Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore's chic locale, that will be opened on Thursday. Even without the board, the fact remains that this is the first private initiative to place a benchmark for the rest of the city to follow for a posh public infrastructure.
This stretch of road measuring 480 metres beautified a la European cobblestoned streets, cost the Mallya-Prestige association about Rs6 crore. The remaining part of the road touching Lavelle Road junction to St Mark Road junction measuring 300 metres may be completed in future, says V Gopal, seniorvice-president, projects and planning, ofPrestige.
"We feel proud we have given a beautiful model for the citizens of Bangalore," says Irfan Razack, chairman and MD of Prestige Group. "We have created separate ducts for every utility which is the most important part of a public utility planning. We have also created some aesthetically good and practically the best model of a pedestrian-friendly public road."
He says authorities can stretch such private initiatives to give the city a facelift. "Unfortunately, we have a poor sense about public infrastructure. We dig and fill and dig and fill and damage the property. We should rather develop infrastructure that can facilitate and foster a better living and business."
On a public perception that the present effort is to lay a beauteous environment to the forthcoming ambitious K2 apartments of Mallya-Prestige, Irfan says: "A public infrastructure is for all. Why do people take such a negative attitude?"
He scotches the belief that the swanky bit of road will further shoot the searing property prices on Vittal Mallya Road and nearby areas. "Prices are ruled by demand and supply. If you ask me, the talk of fancy property prices here is only an imagination. It has not happened," says he.
The new-look VM Road with the UB City towering over the skyline is bound to help the top-notch luxury hotels, exclusive stores, restaurants, cafes, bars, entertainment and shopping centres. But those businesses at the far end of the line say their businesses will be just the same.
"We are showcasing a standard to follow," says a beaming Gopal. "It was a massive effort, giving utility an international standard such as different ducts for telecom lines and electrical cables and RCC drain on both sides with granite paviour for pedestrian comfort and stone bollards for their safety. During monsoons, the road used to get flooded. But now with the elevation and drainage, it will not happen," says he.
The illumination at night is eye-friendly and aesthetically appealing.
"The business in and around this road, which had always been good, will further bounce. One thing is sure: pedestrians can close their eyes and walk. Also there would be enough parking for them in the UB City complex. The complex has space for 1800 cars. They can pay and park," he says.
Prestige functionaries say the work on the road began in the end of September last. So it all took about seven months. "We held some eight coordination meetings of the officials of various authorities such as Bescom, BBMP, BWSSB and daily meetings with contractors so that the finished piece of work will hold out the promise of being the best one can expect. The original cost of Rs3 crores had doubled but we did not compromise on quality," they say. A look at the road confirms this.
Interestingly, the model patch of public road had seen some slanging match between UB-Prestige and BBMP. The beautification proposal had no old model to follow and it had to be routed through several agencies. But the issue finally got resolved and the work went on smoothly.
Experts and engineers whom DNA contacted say that if the Palike and the government take a broader view of public infrastructure and private partnership, many parts of the city can follow this example and it will save a lot of public money.
p_surendran@dnaindia.neton fast track: If the Palike takes a broader view of public infrastructure and private partnership, many parts of the city can follow the example of Vittal Mallya Road

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