From a pensioner's paradise to IT capital…how is Bangalore going to grapple with its unprecedented growth? A look by V.M. Hegde

Garden City, Air Conditioned City, Pensioner's Paradise, Fashion Capital, India's Silicon Valley… all these phrases described how Bangalore was. However, recent years saw Bangalore changing itself into Garbage City, Filthy City, Crime City and so on. All the planned efforts seem to be evaporating in thin air, resulting in unplanned development. And this is in spite of having plans, development organisations and umpteen projects. The reasons for such chaotic advances and consequential financial implications on the Corporation, planning authority, etc., need a critical review, as the New Year has just taken off.

PropertyPlus will bring a two-part series on how the Garden City gradually slipped into a state where the administration is unable to come to grips with an ever-expanding exponential growth pattern; how the authorities concerned are unable to handle basic hygiene factors so much vital for a ‘investment destination' even as we have to put up with heaps of garbage and open, overflowing drains on main roads that invite stray dogs and cattle; where we see most roads and the newly brought in underpasses that cry for attention, notwithstanding their supposed role in the city's infrastructure development. What just is the city in need of? Let's go back to its beginnings and analyse…

The beginning

The name Bangalore derives from “Benda Kalu”, which means boiled beans. The origins date back to the 10th century. After the arrival of the British, the city was given the anglicised name Bangalore. In the beginning of the 20th Century, the population of Bangalore was only 1.63 lakh (1901).

The doubling of this population can be seen between 1901 and 1931, 1931-1951 and 1951-1971. There is a phenomenal 76.7 per cent growth during 1971-1981 and 65.2 per cent between 2001 and 2011. The population of Bangalore, which was 84.25 lakh in 2011, is likely to reach 120 lakh by 2031. No doubt Bangalore's growth has been exponential, both in terms of its population and sprawl.

The geographical boundaries have also increased both of the Corporation as well as the Bangalore Local Planning Area. The corporation limit which was 69 sq. km in 1949 increased to 112 sq. km in 1964, 161 sq. km in 1979, and 226 sq. km in 1995. After the formation of BBMP in 2007, it is 741 sq. km. The Bangalore Local Planning Area (BMA) increased from 500 sq. km in 1972 to 1,279 sq. km in 2001. The urban governance has also changed from Panchayat to Municipality to Municipal Corporation and presently the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

Unplanned development

Kempe Gowda, known as the founder of Bangalore, played a very important role in shaping the city. Krishna Raja Wadiyar II converted the city into an army town. It was under the British rule that Bangalore started developing into a modern city with all facilities such as railways and telegraphs. The two great Diwans of Mysore State, Sir M. Visvesvaraya and Sir M. Mirza Ismail, evinced keen interest in developing Bangalore during the second and third decade of the 20th century.

After India gained independence in 1947, Bangalore became the capital of Karnataka and from then on the city witnessed unprecedented growth, beyond the expectations of policy makers, bureaucrats and planners.

Under the Bangalore City Improvement Act, 1945, the Improvement Trust Board was constituted and it developed eight residential extension schemes in different parts of the city on a planned basis to meet considerable part of the demand for housing.

This was the initial step towards development of Bangalore in an integrated manner. The CITB also developed an industrial suburb at Rajajinagar to meet the requirements of industrial sites.

The Bangalore Development Committee was constituted in the year 1952 by the Government to work out a development plan which can be said to be the first exercise of its kind. Subsequently, in 1961, the Bangalore Metropolitan Planning Board (BMPB) was constituted to prepare a development plan, considering the trend of growth. The BMPB prepared an Outline Development Plan for Bangalore which was submitted to the Government in February, 1963.

The birth of BDA

The Town & Country Planning Act, 1961, was enacted to enable the preparation of development plans for the settlements in the State of Karnataka. This Act came into force from January 15, 1965. The State Government declared the Bangalore Local Planning Area in 1966.

This area was the same as the Metropolitan Area proposed by the Bangalore Metropolitan Planning Board. A City Planning Authority was constituted on August 8, 1967, for the Bangalore Metropolitan Area. The Planning Authority prepared the Outline Development Plan (ODP) and submitted it to the Government which was provisionally approved. The Planning Authority modified the ODP which was finally approved by the State Government on May 22, 1972.

The Bangalore Development Authority was constituted by the Government under a Special Act called the Bangalore Development Authority Act, 1976, and the authority came into existence during the same year by merging CITB & BMPA wherein development function and planning function came under one authority. The BDA was constituted on the same lines as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).

One of the immediate tasks of BDA after constitution was to prepare the CDP which was the next step in the planning process. The CDP, proposed for a period of 15 years i.e. upto 2001, was provisionally approved in 1980 and finally approved in 1984. Subsequently the revised Master Plan was provisionally approved by the Government in 1994 and finally approved in 1995.

It is observed that the population projections made in the several Master Plans (ODP or CDP) are very much on the lower side. The projected population in the master plans was 29 lakh and 38 lakh for 1991 & 2001, whereas the actual population as per the respective census was 41.3 lakh and 51.1 lakh.

The latest Revised Master Plan (RMP 2015) is prepared for the projected population of 88 lakh, whereas the population as per 2011 census itself is 84.25 lakh.

Master Plan revision

The exercise of Master Plan revision managed to collect the spatial data and many maps for the city, which covers 1,240 sq. km of the local planning area. A conservative estimate made by the agency, which revised the Master Plan of BDA during 2005-07, indicated that out of the 1,240 sq. km, an extent of about 300 sq. km i.e. 30,000 hectares, is unauthorised or informal development.

(to be continued next week)

(The author is Former Director of Town Planning, Govt. of Karnataka)