Thursday, September 30, 2004

From marshlands to suburb of the future

Times of India

A flyover, possibly the biggest in South Asia, a beautified lake acclaimed for its aqualife, an international airport at Devanahalli on the anvil, the Golden Quadrilateral highway. Just a few jewels in the crown of Hebbal, which even five years ago was considered the end of Bangalore. The transition from a nondescript, marshy area to a suburb of the future is thanks, mostly, to the flyover.

The two-and-ahalf years of havoc wreaked on commuters during construction and money to the tune of over Rs 50 crore have paid rich dividends. For, it has opened up Bangalore’s landscape to national highways — National Highways 4 and 7 — which connect to other southern metros,Hyderabad and Chennai. As soon as the proposal for the long-pending Devanahalli airport was given the green signal, landsharks and builders have been setting shop by the droves.Incidentally, it is believed that Bangalore architect Kempegowda’s wife and mother belonged to this region, then known as Hiriya Balal (big town). Explains noted historian Suryanath Kamath, “Though there are no inscriptions, it is believed that old Bangalore originates in the Hebbala region which was a big town some 1,000 years ago.

The first activity in the area was by an agricultural chemist who established an experimental farm. The area came into prominence after the University of Agricultural Sciences came into being in 1913. It was then a school with admissions open only for farmers’ children.’’ Of course, the school graduated to a college and now a reputed university. A resident of Hebbal for 14 years, M.N. Rao records with wonder how he had to “come down to the city’’ for provisions not so long ago. Just after the flyover, 33 acres to the right, tech parks and multiplexes have been planned.

An aqua-tech park spread over 20 acres is being set up at the UAS. Christened the Aquaculture Research and Extension Centre, it will demonstrate fish and fresh water prawn farming to enable transfer of expertise of 20 years. Importing and farming small and rare deadly piranhas are other planned overtures. Aerosports like parasailing and microlight flying is the area’s oeuvre by the Hebbal lake set on 1 km of tall wild grass. Hebbal lake, a vital habitat for migratory birds, was once under strain due to continuous inflow of untreated sewage and effluent. Therestoration, by the Lake Development Authority with helping hands from Indo-Norwegian funds, has helped breathe life back where it belonged. One thing some residents are peeved with is the step-motherly treatment dished out to residential areas proper. An urban R.T. Nagar- Sanjaynagar with its lure of independent homes, has stolen the thunder from us,is a petulant complaint.


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