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Updated: May 4, 2013 09:50 IST

Surviving a changing suburbia

Divya Gandhi
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Yelahanka may have outgrown its ‘satellite town’ moniker with its integration into the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and a phenomenal real estate boom catalysed by the Bengaluru International Airport’s location just 20 km north, in Devanahalli.

However, despite the proliferation of apartment complexes and commercial establishments, Yelahanka’s enduring identity continues to belong to its erstwhile avatar as an industrial suburb and base for the armed forces — the Central Reserve Police Force, the Yelahanka Airforce Station, the Rail Wheel Factory and several other manufacturing industries.

And its suburban reality and new residential identity do not always make for a comfortable fit. The sooty smoke from a diesel-based power plant, set up to service the Rail Wheel Factory by Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd., engulfs apartments within its radius. An inadequate sewage network threatens to choke the many ancient tanks here, including the Puttenhallikere, famous for its birdlife.

And the city’s biggest landfill endangers residents of Mavallipura village and at least 15 surrounding villages has been curiously given the go-by by political parties this time, points out M. Ramesh, DSS district president and gram panchayat member, Ramagondanahalli.

Apathy to vote

Indeed, the frenzy of activity that marked the last day of campaigning on Friday was all but absent in this cluster of villages that made headlines just a few months ago.

“Not a single party has taken interest in our situation. No one has come to campaign here,” Mr. Ramesh told The Hindu. While garbage is no longer dumped here, the existing four-million-tonne heap of trash continues to smell, leach into the groundwater and breed mosquitoes, despite BBMP’s promise to process it, he says.

Yelahanka was a Congress stronghold for the decade before the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party MLA S.R. Vishwanath swept the polls by a sizeable margin of 16,000 votes in 2008. Mr. Vishwanath is now pitted against B. Chandrappa of Janata Dal (Secular) and Gopalakrishna M.N. of the Congress.

Personal fortunes

The rise in Mr. Vishwanath’s personal fortunes has kept pace with real estate development. His assets have more than doubled from Rs. 8.9 crore to Rs. 21.6 crore between 2008 and 2013. Awkwardly for Mr. Vishwanath, charges of corruption and land grabbing against him were making news as recently as a week ago, when the High Court granted him anticipatory bail, in a case involving the illegal transfer of 32 acres of government land in Madappanahalli (Yelahanka constituency) to his family. Last year, investigations by the Lokayukta police revealed that he possessed Rs. 7.74 crore worth assets that were disproportionate to his declared income.

The corruption charges have cost him the vote of M. Nagaraj, resident of Attur ward, who works with a gas agency. “His illegal dealings will not get my vote,” he says. Whether this sentiment is echoed by the rest of his constituency will soon be seen.

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