Tuesday, November 27, 2007

CHAOS on the WAY

CHAOS on the WAY
KR Puram to Sarjapur Road. It’s boom time like never before. But, as R Jayaprakash finds out, there’s trouble looming large

Scores of tall, massive apartments dominate the skyline. Rows of glass-and-steel facade complexes. Hundreds of sedans, vans, buses and trucks lined up for kilometres. This is part of Greater Bangalore — the 14-km stretch between Sarjapur Road and KR Puram. Testimony to the realty boom and expanding horizons of the IT spectrum.
But this burst of prosperity is dogged by a ticking time bomb — inadequate infrastructure. There are about 2,500 mega apartment structures with dwellings of more than 1.5 lakh individual units. There are about 500 massive office complexes with over 1 million sqft of office space. There is no official count of medium and small apartments, and commercial complexes. When these are fully occupied, there will be more than 3 lakh residents in this sector and over 1 lakh employees of the knowledge industry will use this road.
This 14-km stretch will have to bear the brunt of around 5 lakh people. The moot question is: Can this sector take the strain? Absolutely not and here’s why:
Proximity to the city and connectivity are two key features that fuel realty growth, and it’s proved here too. The staggering growth has thrown everything out of gear. Multi-level housing complexes on a road less than 20 metres wide are a common sight here. Mushrooming of illegal layouts has set the stage for builders coming in hundreds to pitch their tents on the narrow roads. However, the winding lanes dotted with concrete structures only hit dead-ends. There is no scientific approach to connectivity on either side of the Outer Ring Road. You could get lost if you dare to map the area. The only saving grace is the local folk without whose help you can’t navigate through the layouts, as there are no designated mains, crosses or even door numbers.
A typical residential layout should have a minimum road width of 30 metres, but it’s not so here. The undulations are so much so that you feel you are driving up rugged terrain with your car chassis brushing the road surface frequently. This situation gets worse because of the heavy trucks (which carry sand, brick, cast iron) and heavyduty concrete mixers. As the stretch is divided between the two newly carvedout BBMP zones — Bommanahalli and Mahadevpura, there has been little effort to provide basic civic amenities such as roads.
The contrast in the new urbanscape of Greater Bangalore is such that you find plush housing complexes in the middle of coconut groves. The failure of BDA to provide housing has proved a blessing in disguise for fly-by-night developers. Taking advantage of the ambiguous government policy on land, and lack of monitoring by the development authority, hundreds of private layouts have mushroomed on either side of the ORR. Cheap land prices which lured thousands of investors have today proved to be a detriment for residents. There are no reserved park areas, lakes have been encroached upon and even if the government wants to put up civic amenities, there is no land available here. The land rule of reserving 50% of the layout for government has been thrown out of the window by developers. With the Sakrama scheme, all the illegal layouts will get a clean chit and this make things worse. While big builders have taken sanction from the BDA to build residential and commercial complexes, developers have bypassed the authority by knocking the doors of gram thanas and erstwhile CMCs to get clearance.
On any week day during peak hours, there is bumper-to-bumper traffic on this stretch. That this is also the main link connecting two national highways — Old Madras Road and Hosur Road — only makes matters terrible with truckers adding to the gridlock. The situation is so grim that HMVs have been barred from entering the stretch from 7 am to 11 am and from 5.30 pm to 9.30 pm. The underpass has already proved redundant with vehicles queuing up on both arms of the underpass for up to to a kilometre. While the railway over bridge is being constructed by the Railways further down the Marathalli bridge, three big builders are on the verge of completing their mega projects on the junction. Once completed, there will be over 3,000 units. Given that there are over 2 lakh residential units, even if half of them throng the road with cars, the ensuing chaos will be hellish.
Water and sanitation are absent in all layouts. While residents of private layouts bank on borwells, the richer lot resort to water tankers. The residents share a borewell between three to four houses, the builders have sunk three to four borewells for each project. The water supplier makes a fortune as his customer base is in thousands. For a few hundreds, every third day each household avail of the supply service.
The BWSSB has done literally nothing to provide water and sanitation facilities in these areas. With the board drawing up plans to develop these areas under the Rs 650-crore Greater Bangalore Water Supply and Sanitation Project (GBWASP), the project is still in the initial stages. A detailed project report (DPR) has been prepared for the Mahadevapura CMC and sent for approval.
The BWSSB is yet to begin furnishing the DPR and detailed design report for Bommnahalli CMC. The only saving grace for wards which come under both CMCs is that they will receive 100 MLD water by this year end.
(With inputs by Ashwini Y S) STORY IN NUMBERS
Distance between Sarjapur Road and KR Puram: 14 km About 2,500 mega-apartments with more than 1.5 lakh individual units About 500 office complexes with over 1 million sqft of office space No official figures of small and medium apartments and commercial complexes
At full occupancy:
This stretch can accommodate more than 3 lakh residents and more than 1 lakh employees. This 14-km stretch will be strained as around 5 lakh people will use it every day
Multi-level housing complexes coming up on a road width of less than 20 m Proliferation of illegal layouts No scientific approach to provide road connectivity to ORR Confusing layout of residential areas Stretch divided between new BBMP zones — Bommnahalli and Mahadevpura, but basic amenities not provided
BDA’s failure to provide housing has emboldened fly-by-night developers Rule to reserve 50% of layout land for government has been flouted by developers. With the Sakrama scheme, all illegal layouts will get a clean chit.
Bumper-to-bumper traffic on this stretch as it’s the main link road connecting two national highways — Old Madras Road and Hosur Road. Underpass is already redundant as there are 1-km pile-ups on both arms of underpass
Residents of private layouts bank on community borwells and water tankers. BWSSB’s Rs-650 crore project under the Greater Bangalore Water Supply and Sanitation Project (GBWASP) is still in the initial stages.

Scores of such residential buildings dot Sarjapur Road

Apartment complex coming up off Sarjapur Road

The skyline near Marathahalli Bridge defined by huge concrete structures


I have been a resident of Bellandur for over two years now. I’ve seen this locality transform at a very fast pace. It looks like Mumbai’s Borivili and I’m sure in the next couple of years, things will be very bad for everyone living or working here. I take about 45 minutes just to reach my office, which is 2 kms from my house. Borewell is the only source of water. While on the ORR, everything looks posh, but inside it is a mess. Massive constructions are taking place 24/7, but there are no roads. As this sector is strategically located between Electronic City and Whitefield, all the knowledge industry employees want to live here. It is really scary to think how life will be two years down the lane. It is high time the authorities do something about it.
I was glad to know that the area came under BBMP but nothing has changed except for BBMP boards being hung on panchayat offices.
Muralikrishna K, Manager
(IT infrastructure), JP Morgan Chase

I’m with my parents at KPCL Layout, which is off Sarjapur Layout. The authorities have done nothing for us, the roads are not tarred and are not aligned. We cannot drink water without boiling it first. We constructed the house in 2000 and then the area was sprawling and there was space for all the needs. But today, the developers have sold all the land and apartments are coming up on almost all the roads. Everything is in a mess. Traffic is so bad that it takes me 1 hour 45 minutes to reach my office which is in CV Raman Nagar. I am really scared of how bad the situation will get in the future.
S Jayatheertha,
Business analyst, Hewlett Packard


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