Friday, March 12, 2010

Grey areas for poor, green patches for the affluent

Grey areas for poor, green patches for the affluent

P K Surendran

The planned part is soothing and the unplanned areas are an eyesore. This is the story of BTM Layout which is one of the three most preferred locations for the single working professionals.
Only a few other constituencies in Bangalore can boast wide and smooth roads, well-maintained parks, tree-fringed paths and well-lit streets as BTM Layout has. This constituency of eight civic wards sports two worlds: tastefully laid out wards such as Koramangala, BTM Layout, Jakkasandra, and Madiwala on the one hand and neglected, poor neighbourhoods such as Lakkasandra, Adugodi, and Suddaguntepalya on the other.
The contrast is glaring. Koramangala and BTM Layouts have 14 parks while their poor neighbourhoods are devoid of parks.
"BTM is still a far more livable locality than many other parts of the city," says Bhargavi S Rao of Environment Support Group. "Only, it is lopsided. One part —Koramangala and BTM Layout — has manicured parks and tree-lined roads and the other wards have hardly any parks worth the name. The avenues have lost the greenery in the constituency thanks to the mindless cutting of trees in the name of road development," she rued.
"True," says Ramesh Shivram, a green enthusiast and member of Koramangala Initiative. "Two wards have become ideal places to live but the constituency as a whole has suffered environmentally. Koramangala parks are living proof of what the joint efforts by a MLA and the community can achieve."
"The greatest misfortune of Bangalore has been its failure to protect lakes which our thoughtful ancestors had painstakingly built," says Leo Saldhana, who leads the Environment Support Group. "Madiwala lake, one of the largest water bodies in the city, has been suffering a slow death because of sewage water and garbage dumping."
This is despite the high-profile status the area commands owing to the large presence of bureaucrats. Leo believes that BTM Layout's wards, Suddaguntepalya, Adugodi, Lakkasandra, need zealous corporators, preferably women, who can bring these areas on par with their rich neighbourhood. And he knows it is not easy.
Despondency is evident among well-meaning citizens of Lakkasandra, Adugodi and surroundings. Robert John, a scientist and eco-activist living in Lakkasandra, echoes their sentiment.
"Lakkasandra is far gone beyond reformation, I'm afraid. This place is stinking with mountains of garbage and consequent proliferation of stray dogs and pests. Our sleep is disturbed as every night, battalions of dogs strike up a battle song that lasts till dawn. I'm not hopeful the coming elections will bring a saviour for our area," he says.
Some attempts are being made to green the area but, on the whole, it remains neglected, adds he.
Sumathi Ranganath, a young employee of a German company, says techies in the constituency are quite willing do their bit to improve the greenery if an initiative comes from residents' associations or the BBMP. "I think women as a whole will bring the green agenda if given a free hand and a chance," Sumathi says hopefully.


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