Monday, August 16, 2010

RBI's presence makes them feel safe

RBI's presence makes them feel safe

There is no official word yet on BBMP's plan to widen Nrupathunga Road. And there is reason to believe that the project may be shelved as the safety of the top bank's currency chest may be compromised in the process. Other institutions fear they too stand to lose a lot if the project gets green signal

Shilpa CB

One question that haunts people living along Nrupathunga Road is: "Will this stretch be widened?" There is no official word yet, many believe. So they hope the road will be left alone.
There are others reasons to make them believe so. The DGP's residence, several government offices, institutions, hospitals, and a court and college are located along this stretch. These may create hurdles to BBMP's road-widening plan here.
The staunchest opponent of the project is the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which, however, remains tight-lipped on the reasons for its objection. Sources, however, say that the bank has responded to the Palike's letter "giving sufficient reasons expressing the difficulties in adhering to the road-widening project's requirements". This was a few years ago. The bank has not received any response from the civic authority yet.
RBI is concerned about safety, says a former banker. Safety regulations require that the entrance and the road are at a stipulated distance from the currency chest. With robbers adopting novel methods to achieve their ends, the bank cannot take chances. Road widening may compromise its security," says he.
Earlier, a proposed flyover on this road was shelved for safety reason. According to him, it will be easy for organised robbers to jump into the RBI premises from the flyover and break into the currency chest.
Thanks to RBI's presence, other institutions along the stretch feel safe. On of them is the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) that runs a 109-year-old entity on five acres and 14 guntas.
"We will lose our lawn, the front view and a lot of parking space," says SV Rathnakumar, the general secretary of YMCA. If the civic authority insists on acquiring land for the road, it should compensate the association by giving it the same amount of land in Cubbon Park located right behind the YMCA building, he adds. It should also not collect fee from the association to use the road in the park to enter and exit the building.
"Road widening may help in reducing accidents. But the solution to road chaos lies in efficient traffic management and curtailing the number of vehicles being added to city roads," he says.
Rajashekhar S, an advocate, too has a suggestion. "The radius of KR Circle is too much. That can be reduced. Ideally, it should be triangular," he says.
St Martha's Hospital, a landmark on Nrupathunga Road, has reason for booing the plan and holding on to the 15ft that has been asked of it. It had recently added a 300-kilo-litre sewage treatment plant at a cost of Rs1 crore. Many drains run close to the wall connecting to the plant. The casualty department too is located close to the compound wall. Any intervention will damage all of this, hospital authorities say.
"Our hospital was almost closed down because we did not have the plant ready. So we complied with the requirement. Now, we can't afford to lose it," says Commodore IA D'Cunha, the administrator of the hospital. He suggests that the wide footpath which is "hardly used" can be utilised to widen the stretch if it is so necessary.
The Yavanika Bhavan, which plays host to numerous events through the year, also needs all the parking space on its premises. "Lots of children gather here very often. It will be quite difficult to give up this land," says KM Nagarathna, the assistant director of Rashtriya Yuva Kendra.
The heritage buildings of UVCE and Mythic Society will also be forced to sacrifice much for the road. That is why the road was ''taken off the list'', employees of society say although nothing is official yet. While citizens debate over the necessity to add more space to this stretch, they invariably mention the newly-added subway, the bus bay.
"If they wanted to widen the road, why did they have to make this subway? What about all the trees we will lose here? Of course, our livelihood will suffer a hard blow, too," says Manjunath M, a shopkeeper who has been around for nearly two decades.
The road is an important nerve that connects most parts of the city to the market area and southern Bangalore. Most BMTC buses cannot avoid passing this way. One can imagine the never-thinning traffic flow here. During peak hours, it gets overwhelmingly manic.
"Given this situation, will adding 15ft to the road make any difference at all? How long will it take for even that width to fall short of commuters' expectations," asks Manjunath.
The new amenities are also falling short of their expectations. The subway is dirty and stinks of urine. It is dark and appears unsafe. "I always ask one of my colleagues to accompany me when I use it. A lone woman could get molested there," says an employee of Yavanika.
The other redundant amenity is the traffic signal. "It is always green. I get off the bus and walk towards the signal hoping I can cross if it turns red. But it never does. I am forced to use the subway, but it is quite unpleasant walking through it," says an employee of St Martha'sHospital


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