Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just leave this broad stretch alone

Just leave this broad stretch alone

What KR Road needs is better traffic management and not more width

Shilpa CB



The order on KR Road from Subbaram Chetty Circle to MM Industries is quite impressive. Although many shops and showrooms have sprung up along the stretch, the area is free from problems related to parking and traffic management. Despite this, the high compound walls bear the red markings for BBMP's road-widening project.
But will such a major makeover help commuters in the future? Local residents are divided on the subject. But they are unanimous on one thing: there will be no compromise on compensation.
"We've been told that property prices will go up astronomically in the next 10 years. What's the guarantee for that? Who knows where we will be then," says Bhaskar Murthy who lives in a house his father had built in 1962. Along with his brothers and sister, he is waiting to share the property but they cannot do it until the BBMP decides on the road project. They have not rented out two shops facing the road ever since the red markings appeared.
"Who knows when we might be asked to vacate," says Murthy. The well near their house may also go. But the loss they worry about the most cannot be compensated for.
"The 10 families who live as their tenants are so attached to this place. Their children go to a nearby school where the fee is subsidised. Workplaces and bus stops are close by. If this building is lost to road widening, they will have to move at least 20km away from the city," says Anasuya N, a resident.
People are not against road development. They are ready to give up their land for a fair compensation that will enable them to buy a similar property in a developed area. Each owner will have to be paid market value of the property lost and the courts will have to decide what 'fair compensation' means, says Ravi Prasad CS, another resident.
"If the BBMP wants citizens to sacrifice their comforts and homes for the larger public good, they should compensate them suitably. But just because it has the power and machines at its disposal, the Palike cannot misuse them," he adds.
Shivakumar CS, a businessman who has a house and a printing press here, says he is for road widening which is in the larger public interest. "But no TDR business. We have to be well-compensated. The mayor's ploy of offering BDA site will also not work. These sites are in the back of beyond. Who will go there," he asks.
"Let them come to us honourably, explain the project, request for land and give us reasonable compensation. If they don't have the money, let them get the money and start the project. You cannot enter a shop and ask to buy something that you cannot afford. Can you," asks Prasad.
When the Tagore Circle underpass opens, there will be need to synchronise the width of all roads connecting to it. Since the airport opened, the quantum of vehicles using this road has increased. It is a single long road that connects Bangalore south and north. All top-ranking officials use this road," says Shivakumar.
Now, vehicles keep away from this stretch because of the underpass work. Once that is complete, there will be no solution to the ensuing chaos. There is a case for adding some width to this road, he says. But that's only half the story.
A short stretch of this road is narrow – about 40ft — and the rest of it is a comfortable 60 ft plus. Then why is the BBMP out to widen the entire stretch, ask residents of apartments located on the broader stretch.
"This road cannot be widened to 80ft as the surrounding roads cannot be that wide. Now that the city is going for different modes of transport to relieve congestion, this is unnecessary. Why, the Metro is not far from here," says Arjunan N, a resident of Kaustubha apartment building that has 12 flats most of which could lose their bedrooms.
H Nagaraja Rao, a resident of Krishna Apartments, says: "TDR is not a workable scheme because the demand and supply will not match."
His building which has 26 flats will lose the recently installed rainwater harvesting tank and also the space where the transformer is located. "This is not case where it is totally necessary. What the city needs is stricter enforcement of traffic rules and checks on licensing of vehicles. The authorities can attempt to decongest the city in a different way. The manner in which they are doing it now is not acceptable," Arjunan says.
The noise and pollution emerging from the road is already forcing people to sell their properties and move to quieter neighbourhoods, says writer SG Malathi Shetty.
Widening will only bring more vehicles and give room for more accidents. Better traffic management is the only way out. Future traffic burden can be shared by Kanakapura Road, say residents.

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