Friday, December 24, 2004

Long-term vision of city’s development

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The citizens' outcry for better roads and other infrastructure in certain parts of Bangalore should serve as an eye-opener to the authorities regarding developmental issues before a similar surge in civic needs arise in other parts of the city. The State administrative and political machinery needs to be proactive in infrastructure development.

Photo and article courtesy of Deccan Herald

Long-term vision of city’s development

The citizens' outcry for better roads and other infrastructure in certain parts of Bangalore should serve as an eye-opener to the authorities regarding developmental issues before a similar surge in civic needs arise in other parts of the city, writes K SUKUMARAN.

THESE are the days when too many debates are taking place on the woes of Bangalore as a result of fast track growth. The city limits expanded by leaps and bounds during the last twenty years or so, on account of industrial and residential expansion. When the city limits could not contain the growth, the expansion went on to the CMCs and TMC around and the CMCs are now found unable to provide the solution for problems faced by them.

The infrastructural needs are not within manageable dimensions and lead to chaos in every field, whether it is in respect of roads, power and water supply,or drainages, let alone the repairs and maintenance of existing roads.

The city grew first towards Hosur and Bannerghatta, basically because of the setting up of the Electronic City in which leading IT companies like Infosys and Wipro established their main campuses. Residential colonies and multistoreyed residential complexes also sprang up in the area, as also on the ring road/adjoining areas, to meet the growing demand for housing for the employees of such software and hardware giants.

As against this, North Bangalore and Bellary road were slow to develop, though Yelahanka came up as a satellite town long back. The proposal to build the Devanhalli international airport too has taken a long time to fructify and even today the progress is bogged down with some technicalities, though there is no doubt about its becoming a reality before long.

The development of north Bangalore has gained momentum in this background. The completion of Hebbal flyover and the consequent faster flow of traffic on the Bellary road pushed the exploitation of this area further.

Heed timely warning
Whether we want it or not, north Bangalore will grow beyond our present comprehension once the Devanhalli airport work starts in right earnest. There are umpteen number of examples before us to prove that, around an international airport, star hotels and residential houses/flats will come up to cater to the needs of the inflow/outflow of people and goods. Similarly, ancillary services will be set up by innovative entrepreneurs to serve their clients' demands. The main consideration for all these will be whether the civic authorities are capable of meeting the growing needs. This is a million dollar question as the past experience does not encourage in entertaining any such hope. This should serve as a timely warning

What is required to be done?
A visionary approach is necessary to foresee, plan and execute such plans. The State government has to take a long term view. The administrative machinery has to be geared to handle the mammoth work involved in providing civic amenities like roads, transport, water supply, sewerage etc. Showcasing Bangalore as the “happening city” is the primary responsibility of the State administration.

By saying this, it does not mean that the government can neglect the development of other towns and villages in the State. The administrative set up in all parts of the State be made responsible for planned development as laid down in the five year plan and the annual budgets year after year. In case, the plan is inadequate, it needs to be revised according to the macro economic objectives. If funds are the constraint, in these days of international lending programmes from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, there is no difficulty in garnering resources.

If what is lacking is the political will, it is necessary to muster it through the will of the enlightened and experienced leadership, with the active involvement of the executive machinery, without any reservation of past allegiance, which is more imaginary than real. Honest and upright officers be entrusted with the task of ensuring positive results.

Some fresh thoughts for consideration by the political leadership
nOpportunities come only once in a way. Posterity will not pardon us if we ignore the call of the times. The chief minister being the head of the administration, has to directly oversee the Bangalore city’s requirements.Able officer/s may be engaged to assist them in their task.

nA master plan for co-ordinated development of Bangalore be evolved by culling out unfinished programmes and also including new ones, keeping in mind the changes in the city’s requirements and the further needs for of the next 5-10 years.
nLet us admit the reality that, the city’s problems are complex and needs to be tackled by hard decisions, and some times not very pleasant steps. One of the most important area which needs attention is the roads and transport.

The vehicles plying on Bangalore roads are growing every day. Ways and means to allow reasonably smooth flow of traffic would need to be put in place before traffic jams become a permanent feature. One ways, road widening, flyovers, outer ring road, feeder roads, elevated transport system, staggering of working hours of educational institutions etc will be required to be implemented.

nConcentration of commercial and residential complexes in areas where traffic congestion is likely should be avoided. Satellite towns should be developed/strengthened by providing satisfactory infrastructure.

nThe expansion and establishment of new software companies hereafter be permitted in northern part of Bangalore. The Arkavathy layout be expedited and similar layouts be planned in the north and north-west Bangalore.

Balanced growth around the existing BMP area should be our aim. There is no need to think of east, west, north or south for further development. Let all areas grow. Scientific planning for development is to be followed by world class execution. Survival of the city shall be the motto. Party politics be eschewed in the interests of progress. Bangalore should have the best facilities, comparable to Singapore and similar world famous growth centres. May this thought become reality, at which all of us can be proud of.


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