Monday, August 02, 2010

Palike must get back to the drawing board and plan for the future

Palike must get back to the drawing board and plan for the future

Vasudeva Adiga

I am not averse to road widening. Any growing city will have to facilitate swelling traffic and people will have to cooperate with the civic authorities. But the issue of road widening in a city like Bangalore envelopes an entire gamut of social, cultural and economical aspects. It should not be a mere engineering exercise.
Road widening and TDR gave rise to so much of popular angst because BBMP's proposal lacked transparency. People saw it as something imposed on them. To my mind, the road-widening plan in Bangalore should take care of the following apsects.

> It should provide for 25 years of transportation needs of the city.
> The stretches that cause bottlenecks should be identified and marked out for the first phase of development.
> People going to be affected must be given detailed information of the plan and the RWA or trade body of that area should be allowed to discuss it.
> Undertake road widening in phases.
> Compensation should either be in money at the market rate or proper TDR with a facility to cash in.
> Let the Palike identify alternative place for trade which should not be far away. Or else, those affected will lose their customers.
> Wherever possible, institutions and government offices should be asked to give up land for widening because they can afford to spare while individual enterprises or owners of property can ill-afford to lose their sole property.
> Long-standing tenants should get some cover in the legislation.
The governments world over are going in for private-public-participation for infrastructure needs. Bangalore can follow that. Elevated railroad, flyovers and signal-free corridors should form the total plan of road development. It should not be merely to widen the existing roads. Every citizen, whether he walks, drives or rides has a right over using the road. And push-cart people and vendors too must have a place in the scheme. If this is not done, the plan to widen roads by a few metres will prove a futile exercise.
BBMP must study the structure of Jayanagar planned by late N Laxman Rao, the then administrator, which exemplarily absorbed developments for 50 years. Urban planners must plan for the future generation. While planning, the social, environmental and cultural needs of people should be respected. It is also a good idea to make multi-layer roads and flyovers like in Tokyo, London, and Shanghai. Planning of roads can be done with minimum damage to people and property. That should be the motto of urban planners.
Finally, it is high time the BDA gave up the old idea of selling undeveloped plots. In a city where land is a precious commodity beyond the reach of ordinary people, it is time we go vertical with compact units that will save land and give occupants security.


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