Thursday, May 26, 2005

House Full: One Crore in Bangalore

The CM may have exaggerated the city’s population, but we are ill-prepared to get even anywhere near that figure
The Times of India

CHIEF minister N Dharam Singh may have got a little carried away about Bangalore’s population growth and said it had touched one crore, but there is no denying that the city is bursting at the seams. Singh had in a recent interview proclaimed that Bangalore’s population, including its floating population, had reached a crore. Experts say it’s an exaggerated figure and don’t want to even visualise such a situation.

The 2001 census registered 65,37,124 people in Bangalore urban. According to the Bangalore Development Authority, the estimate for 2005 is 70 lakh, of which 52 per cent are immigrants. The annual growth rate is 3.25 per cent. Whether you like it or not,

the census gives the ‘immigrant’ status to anybody who is born outside Bangalore even if you have spent the better part of your life here. Though it is difficult to estimate the floating population of the city at any given point of time, Bangalore Times gathered some data to get an idea of the number of people coming into the city in a day by different modes of transport. According to the Airports Authority of India, nearly 6,000 people arrive in the city daily. Over 80,000 people alight from trains and 1.5 lakh people take different buses to reach the city. Says KSRTC station manager Venkatesh Reddy, “A couple of years ago, the average daily traffic was 70-75,000. Now with all the state roadways put together, our depot handles 1-1.5 lakh passengers in a day.”


• One of the main areas of concern is transportation. Traffic expert MN Sreehari says Bangalore has reached the state of ‘plastic failure’ where no amount of repair will bring the city back to the ideal state. “Before we reached this state, with some amount of repair work the situation would have bounced back. Now it has lost that elasticity. When the population of a city touches 10 lakh planners should start thinking of mass transportation systems, so that when it touches 20 lakh it is all in place. We are now almost 70 lakh and are still debating about it. We need multiple modes of mass transportation simultaneously.” He also suggests ‘registration holidays’ to control the number of vehicles being registered in a day in the city. Vehicle entry into the city should also be discouraged.

• Entrepreneur Prakash Nichani feels as a city grows its leisure industry grows to meet the increasing and varied demands of its population. “Bangalore is no different. We feel malls are crowded now because there are just a few. Soon we will see malls in different parts of the city, including suburban areas, and crowds will be distributed between them. We already have an adequate number of pubs. Food courts where people can grab quick meals from a huge variety of cuisines will grow along with fine dining restaurants. Movie theatres will go the multiplex way, as we are already seeing,” he says.

• How do we prepare ourselves for the one crore mark? Ramesh Ramanathan, founder, Janaagraha, feels the core issue in a city’s development lies in the way its planners manage land. “Most of the growth is now taking place in the surrounding areas, the eight municipalities and the adjoining villages. The main problems of the city, like greenery, residential areas turning commercial, road widening, property tax collection — everything will be manageable if we reform urban land management,” he maintains. He also propagates extensive municipal reforms by which the laws are changed, municipal administration is revamped and the functions of the different civic agencies realigned so that “the right hand knows what the left hand is doing”.


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