The Change caught us Wrong-Footed

chanz By chanz, 9th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

Problems Bangalore City is facing today due to increasing population and growth of software industries,which calls for ‘pockets of development’ instead of a collective change

The change caught us Wrong-Footed

Cities’ character is inconsistent. What better place to quote and begin with than the city that we hail from, Bendekalooru turned Bengalooru turned Bangalore turned Bengaluru, and for no real justified reason. Bangalore doubled, tripled, and quadrupled in population with visible effects; the grass is thin, the sidewalks and paths (if any) are broken. Most of it looks the same: long streets filled with small shops, street vendors, heavy traffic, and lots of people. Paris, London, Berlin, and Rome were designed to have large public spaces and monuments, which makes those cities photographable.
The drastic change in infrastructure began with the city’s elite investing in educational institutions and research facilities, with pockets of land being acquired and developed, labour influx for on-site services like construction and maintenance, and laying tar roads (of debatable quality) to connect to these pockets of development. The problem now, was the ‘pockets of development’ instead of a collective change. Nevertheless, this was change enough to bring in the student community, intellectuals and professionals of concerned trades. We still had the expanse to grow horizontally (or expand our city in terms of area).

The era of glass awakens now, cladding a plethora of soul-less unplanned commercial complexes for the sake of “saving face”, what we like to call make-up. Glass covered buildings mean higher need to cool interior spaces, consuming irrational amounts of power, when India has not even developed alternate power generation methods. Everyone involved in expansion demanded decent food, shelter. Immigrants including cooks, maids, cleaners, day labourers and poorer students, settled in long alleys, ill planned layouts resulting from a somewhat careless land law enforcement and green belts turning into illegal layouts and ghettos being masked by huge hoardings. Streets being encroached upon by pushcart vendors and beggars, it's difficult to find anything; they rarely put up signs with street names. House numbers are seldom. If you don't know where something is, you won't find it. This is when the petite Victorian streets were stressed and traffic flow was erratic, with ever increasing one-ways and speed-breakers (a sincere attempt by the traffic police) making your commute a not so joyous one.

The old airport was another traffic item. It's not that India is a developing country; they simply don't put much effort into fixing infrastructure, such as roads and airports. If they wanted to, they'd have modern roads and airports ages ago. They just did not put effort into roads yet.

The price we had to pay was temperature rise, higher noise generation and hence, decreasing indigenous wildlife: sparrows that never returned. A solution to the traffic jams are "flyovers" (elevated roadways). The city is building more of these. But construction is slow and takes years. The only form of traffic control is speed bumps. These are very popular and placed everywhere. You often see bus or trucks heavily overloaded. A bus is jammed with people, and more are hanging from the door. Trucks are loaded with bags of produce and people.

Traffic flows through the construction site. You walk over rubble, while large tractors back up around you. You walk past within inches of a welder (wearing no safety equipment at all). Indians do not notice this. Others have to be very careful. The roads cannot handle any more traffic, no matter how many Toyota Innovas (often under-occupied) are wanting to be sold and bought.

People drive fairly slow, so most accidents aren't dangerous. The problem isn't the chaos as much as it's the lack of emergency care. If you're critically injured in Silicon Valley, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrive within 180 seconds. But in cities like Bangalore, forget it. And if you are in an accident outside of a large city, well... Ironically, medical tourism has increased as a consequence of availability of skilled surgeons demanding a not so impoverishing price and decent hospital infrastructure for the Asians from the countries in and around the sub-continent like Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, etc.

The infrastructure is a mess. The CEO of Wipro threatened to pull out of Bangalore because the city doesn't have the political will to fix the problems and neither was initially built for the kill. Many companies have set up operations in other cities, such as Hyderabad, Chennai, and so on.

Metro can cause higher noise levels and in rare cases might also border residential areas and hospital zones. They have removed trees from the hearts of the city. The support structures like piers and anchor paths for trains are quite high and block views across vital roads like MG road, Mysore road and locales like JP Nagar and Vijay Nagar. While construction takes long and is tedious, shops on either side of the site were demolished and the place resembled a bombed out spot in Afghanistan.

While road expansions in golf course road, Chalukya circle/avenue road, Bellary road have been successful and for justified reasons like the access to the Bangalore international airport limited (BIAL) project, we have witnessed disasters like hasty road widening during the CWG in Delhi.

Mantri mall has cashed-in on the glitz craving sentiments of mall-deprived north-Bangalore inhabitants who will brave the unqualified access roads to see a vertical market with display windows.

Looking ahead, since architects have realised that horizontal expansion in Bangalore has supersaturated, vertically rising towers like the UB city pioneer the future. Our only prayer to these heavenward bodies in the making is that the makers keep environmental concerns in mind and get out of “the Glass fad”. We also hope our ethnicity is not lost in ways it already has been damaged, adulterated accents, music, lifestyle because of economic integration, higher purchase power and job creation. We also see a future in multi-level roads, as working precedents in cities like Bangkok exist. Let us first get our feet firmly on-ground, and then reach heavenward.


Architecture, Bangalore, Infrastructure, Metropolitan Cities, Population, Traffic Generation

Meet the author

author avatar chanz
The 4D's of Life-
Discipline + Diet + Determination= DESTINY
I'm a protestant/believer and i think big,because god provides in abundance.An architect in the making, I write what I observe.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
9th Apr 2012 (#)

You have an eye for detail, chanz. Democracy without rule of law becomes a jungle. The opposite is China who, though professing to be communist, was able to achieve what others can only dream of in such a short time. India has to realize - no pains no gains, or rather to live in eternal pain like now with the full play of demo-crazy! siva

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author avatar chanz
9th Apr 2012 (#)

very true pain no gain

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