There should be no compromise on high standards of execution of civil infrastructure works, says K. Sukumaran

The news is that Bangalore has become unwieldy and needs to be pruned. The debate whether the BBMP area may be converted into 5-6 administrative zones is on. Planners, administrators, and political leaders are all thinking of finding a viable size to this growing city. The discussions seems to be around the following issues:

The BBMP has failed in meeting the city’s growing infrastructural needs.

Administrators have fallen short of expectations.

Funds requirements are huge and beyond manageable limits.

Corruption and inefficiency have crippled development.

Quality of life in the city is below the acceptable levels.

Along with the above broad issues, the debate by a local school children group and another from the U.K. on the subject of “Mega cities are bad for a developing world” has received attention. A ‘city lovers’ panel discussion on “finding the past in the present” where the points flagged by Chiranjeevi Singh, ex- bureaucrat, also make interesting reading.

Many old timers rue over the transformation and chaos. The debate is actually between the ‘old and the new’ and the lost link in between!

When new generations migrate to any city for making a living, they will automatically promote growth and development: additional infrastructure like new buildings, roads, industrial and office space, educational institutions, eateries, entertainment facilities etc. When more and more housing and office premises are built, they have to be either vertical or horizontal. Examples are the Public Utility Building (PUB), the first of such high-rises , S.I. apartments adjacent to the golf links in High Grounds, and satellite towns like Yelahanka and Kengeri. In the Central Business District, the old bungalows have yielded place to high-rises. The Urban Art Commission set up under the late T.P. Issar, with the specific objective of preserving the heritage of the city, recommended restricted growth in some parts of the city. Church Street, which has now come into focus for poor maintenance and cleanliness, was one such area where the Commission suggested banning of high-rises. The latest effort of the youth brigade indicates that the residents/occupants and also the service providing agencies have failed in taking care of the locality’s needs.

History

Kempe Gowda’s Bangalore cannot be erased by growth and affluence. However, preservation and carrying the ‘past to the future’ need to be an ongoing effort by the State Government.

Teaching history to the new generation will have to be part of any curriculum.

Visionary approach

A visionary approach to growth is the cornerstone of planning, administration and also the review system. Bangalore is not the only growing city which faces challenges. What about Mumbai, and for that matter, NCR consisting of Delhi and suburbs? Navi Mumbai is a classic example.

Growth of Bangalore is not the problem. Our lack of futuristic planning and implementation of such plans are the failing points.

Let us not forget the administrator stalwarts like late Laxman Rao, who contributed substantially for the orderly growth of our city in their days.

Any number of years for the Mayor of Bangalore or direct election to such offices may have only limited effect unless we have efficient administrators.

The mayors in India and their counterparts in New York or Los Angeles are not having similar powers or roles.

Viable units are a primary requirement for efficient administration.

Transport

The ring roads and Metro rail / monorail can meet the present BBMP area’s transportation needs.

If within 30 minutes to 45 minutes’ travel, one can reach the city centre from the outskirts, it should be an acceptable geographical area for any metro.

The addition of new areas to the city may need to be avoided as far as possible. Let the satellite towns of Ramanagaram, Doddaballapur, Chickballapur or Malur remain outside the BBMP.

Administrative zones, with a cohesive set-up, can be a way out for many of today’s problems, but funds need to be generated from all sources. High standards of execution of works, whether it is road maintenance or infrastructure, should not be compromised at any rate.

Willingness to face the challenges squarely is essential at all levels for a task like building a modern metropolis.