Bengaluru

Settlements in 110 villages degenerating into urban slums, finds study

A view of makeshift houses on Millers Tank Bed Road in Bengaluru.  

The infrastructure gap and the disparity in the quality of life between the core area of Bengaluru and the newly added 110 villages to the city’s corporation has been a bone of contention among residents for several years. New research by the World Resources Institute (WRI) not only confirms the existence of the gap but reveals an alarming trend: 28% of the original village settlements are now part of urban slums.

The study also reveals how these pockets have woeful access to public transport and sanitation. The two-pronged study involved a GIS mapping of these areas and comparing it with satellite images from the past to document changes and an on-ground survey of the affected areas.

The findings were stark: 110 villages in the city’s outskirts that had been absorbed into urban limits in 2007 to form Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had over 220 village habitations. A decade later, around 28% of these 220 settlements have lost the unique characteristics of villages and are now part of slums.

The influx of a large migrant population, which strained existing resources, coupled with a gap in municipal services, has led to such a situation, said Jaya Dhindaw, Strategy Head (Integrated Urban Practice), WRI India. She cited the example of Kalkere village, part of Ramamurthynagar ward on the North-Eastern periphery of the city, where the migrant population has exceeded the village population. The civic body has done little to meet their needs.

Settlements in 110 villages degenerating into urban slums, finds study
 

The findings clearly indicate the deterioration of the city’s fabric due to gentrification based on class lines. Citizens in these pockets often have no voice to ensure provision of municipal services on par with other areas and hence are often cordoned off from planned development initiatives, said researchers.

Villagers worse off

Over the years, as living conditions deteriorate, they tend to be declared slums by the government, said Ms. Dhindaw. This is evident in the study’s findings. Frequency of public transport to these areas is more than 30 minutes, 90% of the time and open defecation (14%) is still prevalent.

A senior city councillor from one of the 110 villages said the differential grants of ₹3 crore for outer wards and ₹2 crore for inner city wards was an eyewash. “Most of the infrastructure and service provision of BBMP, BWSSB, BMTC and BMRCL were still focused on core city,” said the councillor.

Were these villages better off under gram panchayats? Probably, says Ms. Dhindaw. “The administration was accessible to the citizens then. Now they are lost,” she said.

This was reflected in the public consultations that BBMP Restructuring Committee held over dividing up BBMP into multiple corporations in 2015. “The outer zones were more enthusiastic of multiple corporations while the core city zones were against it,” recalls V. Ravichandar, member of the committee now disbanded.

Context-specific solutions

The study recommends context-specific regulations and retrofitting of infrastructure without compromising on health and safety of citizens, and quality of built spaces.

“The BMTC does not even have buses that can run on the narrow roads in these villages. Moreover, BMTC rationalises routes on revenue bases and these villages are often left out. We need to buy smaller buses for villages,” says urban infrastructure expert Ashwin Mahesh.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 10:50:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/settlements-in-110-villages-degenerating-into-urban-slums-finds-study/article24567291.ece

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