Friday, May 30, 2008

Infrastructure is the need of the hour

Infrastructure is the need of the hour
The major civic infrastructure projects on the anvil promise to make the city that’s now on the global air map a preferred business destination in the region. B S Manu Rao and Sai Prasanna outline some major projects before the new government being sworn in today

After a spell of President's rule, an elected government is here. And this government is being sworn in at a crucial time for the city. The new international airport at Devanahalli that had been in the reckoning through the last government's term is now functioning. The development it promised to usher in is now waiting to unfold. Urban affairs had never been as crucial as they are now.
Bangalore is perhaps the only city in the world where the works on a metro rail system, a third ring road, and an international airport have been happening at the same time. Take into account the road widening projects, the development of arterial roads, elevated roads and numerous grade separators and flyovers, and you have an astounding investment in civic infrastructure on the agenda. This massive expansion in facilities indicates the sort of growth seen in the city's population, and the expected growth in the medium term.
The IT sector is now firmly entrenched in the city. It added a new dimension to the character of the city. It is driving the city's real estate sector and has created a new market for retailing, entertainment and the service industry. It brought in a large number of job seekers and entrepreneurs looking for opportunity to this city with a salubrious climate. IT was a turning point in the city's history. It brought with it a new sobriquet and changed the dynamics of the city forever. The Bangalore with large 'circles' dotting the green, air conditioned cityscape discovered an economic lever and changed gears. The new-found affluence funded a new lifestyle. With the cosmopolitan city embracing IT came the market for hypermarkets, multiplexes and global brands. And another Bangalore came about.
The government stepping into power this morning takes the baton at this crucial stage in the race for a prominent place on the global business map. With the international airport comes connectivity and a place on the world air map. Bangalore will have a signboard at departure lounges of international airports around the world. It is all the more important to make this an efficient business destination with quality civic infrastructure. While it is endowed with space around to grow and good climatic conditions, the government needs to fine-tune its civic infrastructure to give it that edge over others centres in the region. An efficient city with adequate civic infrastructure is what global players look for while choosing a base.
BMIC project
The Bangalore-Mysore infrastructure corridor project that links the two cities with an expressway is another project that has been on the anvil. This expressway along with the five townships enroute will see considerable development between the two cities. It promises large-scale commercial development with employment potential for a million people. It will open up large spaces for the IT sector and also opportunities for other industries. The infrastructure, water and power availability in the townships here promise to draw many entrepreneurs.
This project will also lead to commercial development of Mysore thanks to the efficient connectivity it provides. The expressway will mean Mysore is just a 90-minute drive from the city. These days, a 90-minute drive to work daily is relatively common. With Mysore within easy reach, many organisations will look at Mysore for a base, especially for training and such HR functions.
Elevated roads
These traffic corridors are vital to bring about quicker access to different localities on the periphery. The elevated road to the Electronic City on the one hand and the one planned to the new airport on the other will see a large number of major junctions decongested. A large number of vehicles will be off the arterial roads under them making it much easier to reach the localities around these two traffic corridors.
Elevated roads to major destinations such as business localities and transport hubs have two benefits. One, they make commuting to these centres easier and quicker. Two, they open up traffic bottlenecks otherwise seen on arterial roads in the vicinity. An important attribute of any efficient city is the good connectivity to its major transport hubs and business centres. This will be achieved in Bangalore with the elevated roads and road widening project.
Metro rail
The steel rods sticking out of the ground spell some progress. The phase one of the project will be a crucial development in the city as it heralds a new concept of commuting and high density development. This project is important to the city for two reasons. One, it eases the traffic condition, especially around the Central Business District. And two, it paves the way for vertical growth as envisaged in the new Comprehensive Development Plan - Master Plan 2015.
A metro rail is a must for any commercial centre. It augments connectivity and makes it possible to travel across the length and breadth of the city quickly and economically. This project will give Bangalore another dimension. Peripheral Ring Road
The 65-km stretch (Phase I) of the planned Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) will connect the city to the new international airport better. Linked to both the national and state highways in the path, this project will take a considerable amount of pressure off the Outer Ring Road.
Apart from connectivity to the new airport, this project opens up new vistas in the development of the city. A lesser-congested Outer Ring Road enhances connectivity within the city. And the PRR opens up land parcels for development alongside. The easier connectivity and ensuing development spells more opportunity in the city.

The focus has to be on the city as well as other parts of the State. Priority should be given to the NICE corridor as this will help in the development of both Mysore and Bangalore, spurring economic activity between the two cities. Urban planning should be looked at carefully so that the city grows in a synchronised manner to reduce congestion.
Vishal Bali
CEO, Wockhardt Hospitals Ltd

The focus of the new government should be connectivity to the international airport with additional roads connecting areas like Hosur, Electronic City, and Bommasandra. From the industry perspective, development of roads and power problems should be handled on a priority basis.
Chetan Maini
Deputy Chairman, Reva Electric Car Company Ltd

The new government should focus on completion of planned infrastructure projects and visualising infrastructure with the future of the city in mind. This has to be looked at from a 20-year perspective so that a road constructed now will bear traffic for the next 20 years.
Harish Bijoor
CEO, Harish Bijoor Consultants Ltd

The new government should take up infrastructure projects with a
sense of urgency. Projects like the BMIC corridor, metro rail, and connectivity to the international airport should be addressed primarily.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
CMD, Biocon India Ltd

The new government should focus on the development of roads. Frequent power outages should be addressed. The city's infrastructure has to be geared up to meet the needs of commercial development.
Farook Mahmood
President, National Association of Realtors - India


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