Thursday, June 30, 2005

Rajajinagar: concrete slum

Nice, sleepy retreat to a concrete slum
The Times of India

Bangalore: Till eight in the morning, Rajajinagar has a semblance of peace. And then, all vehicular hell breaks loose.

Add to this clash of chassis, unduly delayed infrastructure projects — the Rajajinagar entrance grade separator and the Modi Road-Chord Road underpass. If a denizen of the area or its neighbourhood like Basaveshwaranagar and Manjunathnagar wants to reach office/school/college at 10 am, native wisdom has it that they leave home one-and-half hour early!

The Rajajinagar entrance grade separator, the pet peeve and cause for much spleen among residents and commuters, has been limping towards an elusive completion. The original deadline was many moons ago but contractors still maintain that all is well and the work would be finished on course. The toll it has had on commuters is manifold — traffic jams, roads scraping off like paper because traffic is restricted to a narrow stretch from Sujata theatre up to Anand Rao Circle. Reasons cited are usual suspects like difficulty in land acquisition from Minerva Mills, change in contractor, etc. The latest ultimatum is August.

So is the case of the Modi-Road Chord Road underpass. Because the usually unproblematic Chord Road near Navrang theatre has been blocked, even BMTC buses are forced to take a deviation into narrow interior residential roads. It is expected to get over by September.

Says area MLA N.L. Narendra Babu: “I have been in this area since my school days. Some parts like Peenya came up for industrial workers. It has become cosmopolitan from the earlier days. From a Kannadiga bastion, it has become home to many North Indians who have bought at least 2,500 sites in the recent past.’’

Many old-time residents complain about the ‘civic overkill’ but are also acutely aware of the massive growth in the area — the constituency boasts of a population of 4.25 lakh.

Rajajinagar, when conceived as an area, was to cater to en masse migrants from North Karnataka and from the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. The large populace of migrants ensured that there were shops with wares like Dharwad peda, Ilkal sarees and the like. The cosmopolitan overtones at pockets of the area have also ensured mushrooming of coffee-shops, family bars, malls, and the ubiquitous darshinis. Also, a swish shopping mall is slated to come up near Sujata theatre.

The area has its own share of idiosyncrasies, a plethora of local fundamentalist organisations originate here. The devout also have a haven here — Iskcon and a host of temples for Anjaneya, Lakshmi, Ayyappa among others. The Vidya Vardhaka Sangha group of institutions are again ubiquitous with the area, as are the KLE society’s institutions.

The famed Chord Road was supposed to be the border for Bangalore. Now, the West of Chord Road has morphed into the pulse of the city acting as a median for areas and wards in the constituency.


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