The Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) - 95 marked out large areas around the city as "Green Belt" (check here), along which no development was to be allowed. Like-wise, there are the valley and lake catchment areas also marked "green" on the CDP maps, where again no development was to be allowed. But, as the city grew, and the value of the lands adjoining these green areas started rising sky-high, the owners of the green areas began to feel cheated. Neither did their lands have much value, nor were their traditional land use practices (mainly agriculture) remunerative any longer, with costs (particularly labour) having gone up sky-high in the meanwhile. This provided for an ideal hunting ground for land-grabbers, who purchased these lands for low value, and, using their clout and money power, manipulated the government (politicos and bureaucrats) to change the land use, using de-notification, CDP map re-colouring, and such other routes. Thereafter, they tied up with developers to promote huge housing and commercial complexes in these environmentally sensitive zones. A case in point is the "Rs 2347 cr mixed use project/ complex proposed at Agara/ Jakkasandra villages, along the Sarjapur road" (check here). And, there are plenty more of them all across the city.
However, with increasing environmental consciousness over the period, the city Civil Society rose up in arms, and today, we have a situation of near total confrontation, where every kind of development is being questioned, if not blocked, often through court interventions. This apart, buoyed by the Anna/ Arvind Kejriwal movements, backed by the media, various institutions like the LokAyukta, BMTF, CAG, etc have also become very active, leading to many builders (Mantri, DLF, Hiranandani, etc) and even politicos and bureaucrats (including Cabinet ministers and Principal Secretary level officials) being charged under under various sections of the the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC.
Invariably, the developers are made to look like the villains, though they are essentially meeting the quality housing and other needs of a growing middle-class, and doing a fairly good job of it too. I myself reside in a Mantri apartment, and without hesitation, I'll say that their quality is comparable to the best in the world, and overall, they have given our community a fair deal.
The problem here lies essentially in the iniquitous drawing up of the CDP, and laying down of land use conditions thereof, which then forces the land owners, who get a raw deal in the process, to find various ways of getting around the problem. And, as long as the inequity issue remains unaddressed, the problem will persist. Also, if this key issue is addressed properly, many of the other issues too will get addressed automatically.
The Sustainable Development Zone (SDZ) plan, detailed in the attached document, is proposed as an overall solution. Many eminent personalities in the country, to whom the presentation has been made, have applauded it as the right kind of an approach, though perhaps slightly idealistic to be practical. But, do we have an alternative that can address the key inequity issue? And, the very fact that the same is addressed here, provides it the strength to ensure compliance from all the stake-holders involved, on a sustainable basis.
All of the above apart, this is perhaps the way to harness the strengths of the Mantri's into developing a more inclusive city, where they cater to the needs of the economically weaker sections also.
So, is this the way for Bengaluru's future?
PS: Jaigopal Rao, the author of the SDZ plan, is my brother. He is arguably the closest disciple of the late Padmasri Laurie Baker, the first eco-friendly architect India has had. Jaigopal Rao, and his wife Latha, practice out of Kochi. Their firm 'Inspiration' 's web-site is www.inspire-india.com. I have no financial stake in the firm. The idea behind publishing this is to generate a debate among the stakeholders on the viability of such a development plan for the city. If a city sees merit in it, and decides to pursue it, it may do so engaging local town-planners/ architects.
|Sustainable Development Zone (SDZ).pdf||855.58 KB|