Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Their anxiety mounts over Palike's silence

Their anxiety mounts over Palike's silence

Bank Colony residents clueless on the fate of 50 homes along Dr Muthuraj Road

Shilpa CB

They had maintained a studied silence so far on BBMP's road-widening plan. They thought it would not catch up with them. That was until recently. Now Bank Colony's residents along Dr Muthuraj Road live in fear amid newspaper reports that their properties will be lost to the road project.
So far, the ominous red numbers and arrow marks have not appeared on their walls.Vehicles keep moving smoothly on the 80ft road. Why then widen one kilometre of it further, they ask.
They are confused and are looking for scraps of information on how much of their hard-earned assets is under threat. Why now? Why this road? Why only the stretch from Bank Colony bus stop to Ring Road? Why not widen it all the way up to Vidyapeetha Circle? Anyone talking about the project is greeted by these questions from them.
"There are no answers to these questions. There has to be a thorough examination," says Panduranga Rao Jr, a senior resident, who owns a house in the State Bank of Mysore Bank Colony. He is not giving much thought to the BBMP's announcement made last week. But the news report has left him angry.
"Will people allow if they (BBMP) just break all the properties on both sides of this road," he asks. Will the people get together and oppose the project? There are no answers to that too.
The colony, which is said to be formed in the 1930s, has about 200 houses. About 50 are located along the main road. But the residents' welfare association remains passive. Its members do not condemn the project in one voice. "Fighting this project will be futile," says BS Venkata Rao, president of the association.
Absence of information has only made matters worse for those who have houses on the main road. "I have only heard that there is a proposal to widen this road. I haven't received any notice," says Radha Venkataramanaiah who has been living here since 1985.
"Let them specify what they want to do, how they want to do. Let them make it clear. We need long-term planning," says another resident. People are tired of getting stressed by rumours and news reports. BBMP engineers have to come face to face with the public and explain their plans, they say.
As for the need for the widening itself, Venkataramanaiah says: "People have started using crossroads. They are finding ways to avoid congesting roads and get around smoothly."
"Clearly, there is no reason for taking away properties of retired people who have put their life's savings into their houses and spaces they have rented out," she says.
Transfer of development rights will be of no use either. "We need money to build vertically if at all the foundation supports more floors. And who wants to live in such a building that requires you to climb up so many floors," asks Purushotham BS, a trader.
But before we talk about these issues, we have to understand that there is no case for adding more road space, residents argue.
Recently, the footpath was reduced to add to the road width. Traffic signals are also a new addition. There is no reason to tamper with people's lives. "They took 1.5 metres from both sides of the footpath exactly three years ago," says Ananda V who runs a shop here over the past 17 years.
The sapling planted when he first rented the place has grown into a tree which may come under the BBMP's axe. But will it reach the walls of his shop? "There is no information. The footpath is wide. The road might come up till the edge of the drain in front," he says.
The business community will not resist if footpaths are acquired for the road. But if buildings are touched, they will definitely have a bone to pick with the Palike.
Again, widening the road using space from the footpath will not benefit anyone. It is only during rush hour that one sees too many vehicles trying to get ahead quickly.
"There are about four schools around here. Parents and vans are dropping off children. During those few minutes, it is unbearably crowded here. Otherwise, it is all calm," says Ramesh TP, a businessman.
Some parts, however, are narrow. "The area near state bank is slightly constricted. That part can be widened. The footpaths are wide but they are occupied by hawkers. They need to be cleared. These steps will improve traffic movement here," says Gurumuthy CR, a resident.
"Cars are replacing two wheelers. People park haphazardly in cross roads. Those who own plots use up all the space without leaving room for vehicles. Such landlords have to be penalised," says Venkataramanaiah.
Residents are waiting for notices and information to reach them to decide whether they need to join the protests against road widening. For now, they just hope their road will be dropped from the Palike's list.


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