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Bangalore in the Pangs of Development!

Development is good for any city and country. And if you just glace around in any major road today, you will see the un-missable sign of development in our beloved Bangalore. Guess what!? It is the new and new buildings being raised in every major street / road in the city that is expanding at a pace so rapid, that you and I can only imagine.

Wait... if you think that I am going to discuss about solving some socio economic issues and especially the traffic situation, Pease stop reading! Or, if you have time to understand that there are no immediate solutions to some of the problems that we face, please continue reading...

It is really good that we have a city so vibrant and virtually in a position to take off to becoming a world class city which will have its own enviable place in this world. With the new government wanting to impress the citizens, and new plans of expansion and development, things are seeming bright for this wonderful part of the planet.
But we ought to see whether we are destroying the present and at what cost is this development coming to us? Or, I would like to put the question this way... Will we get any benefit at all? Of course more fly-overs, broader roads and numerous underpasses, the Metro Rail, Mono Rail, all are beneficial for the society.  But first, we need to understand what “benefit” is. I have been here in Bangalore for over a decade now and know how it was at the turn of the century and how it is now. If you ask me, or for that matter, any Bangalorean, if the city has "developed"... they will quickly say "Yes".
But if you drill down and really make them ponder over the thought of development, then they will slowly give you an answer something like "Yes... we have many multiplexes, many new malls have come up, it is much more urban than it was... but it is much more congested... and it is much more polluted... etc... etc..."
I am not against multiplexes or shopping malls, but I just want to re-iterate that everything needs to be balanced, and as there is a demand, the supply needs to be planned in a way that does not affect the equilibrium! What good is development for future if your present is hampered!! Do you ever say that “I want to have money 5 years down the line so I will not spend now.”!? No! That is not the way life is meant to be...
The classic example is the KR Puram hanging bridge / fly over and the accompanying fly overs near Pai Layout on Old Madras / ITPL road. By the time, these were conceived and completed, they had become meaningless! If everyday morning you see the kind of traffic jams on top of the bridges, you will be surprised and think - why these fly overs (so huge and costly) are required - the cars, buses and bikes can stand still, on the ground also!!
This is one of the instances that shows the lack of "futuristic" planning and implementation of our developmental projects.
The engineers and authorities did a very good job with these fly overs... but only that these were meant for the traffic situation of 2000 or 2001. Not 2008 or still worse, 2010!!
So, doing proper long term planning is important, but right from our road repairs to the more prestigious of projects, we are always very busy in solving the problems of today, and by the time we "Solve" the problem the problem has become bigger and more complex!
Many times, as is with the so called “Indian Attitude”, we run after quick fix solutions. I too belong to this band of quick-fix problem solvers, no one is excluded!  If there is a pot hole, fix it, some how fix it, blame it on the road department, blame it on torrential rains, and pour some concrete on it and fix it. What is not understood and realized is the simple fact that why do potholes occur? This calls for a certain amount of thought, and identifying the real causes of the problem - which takes time and energy!! And that is what we always don't have :)
So much has been written down on the road and traffic condition in Bangalore that it is virtually predictable on what will be the next sentence about! Yes! But seldom do we see that all the problems being highlighted have no immediate solution. Departments that have been laying roads in a particular way, will continue to do so, we don't have an immediate solution for this, as this calls for a cultural and attitudinal change which is very difficult to be brought in.
So, what do we do? See and understand why roads are damaged, apart from the fact that the roads may not be of the required good quality levels. This is where I beg to differ from the normal causes of road damage. I have seen multiple times a perfectly laid out road being damaged by heavily loaded lorries and trucks that ply on the road.  Majority of these lorries are laden with construction material like Mud, Cement, Sand, Jelly material - where will all the new buildings come from!! I have personally seen so many lorries loaded excessively spilling their loaded material on good quality roads when they go on a speed breaker or when they apply break - just like that. Many times I have had to break suddenly to avoid the spray of sand and jelly! Any bike riding citizen will agree with me in Bangalore that we wear helmets more to protect ourselves from the dust and pollution caused by those dreadful lorries rather than to protect our heads! Once I have seen a lorry drop part of its mud load onto the road and it went off. It was not a small quantity, huge lump of mud that could fill one auto rickshaw trailer! In the rainy season, nothing else is required to make the road more dangerous...
Empty lorries are the worst... they have the residue of the unloaded stuff and they go at such full speeds contaminating the entire route on their ride!! I travel everyday on the ITPL road to Hebbal and believe me everyday my helmet gets a coating of black coloured cement, dust, mud all combined.  The worst nightmares are during rains and when huge trailers / trucks breakdown on the road, blocking the traffic!! Believe me, everyday we at least see two lorries broken down and causing huge traffic jams.
This is the pain of development... and we need to be part of it... but there are some ways and means....
Can someone who has got the authority and the wherewithal (we can not take the law into our hands), act? Yes... and this does not call for a costly project, but simple measures to ensure that...
  1. The lorries entering city limits and major roads are having a DEFINED STANDARD and can only enter if they satisfy those criteria - this way, breakdowns can be avoided.
  2. These standard could include – maintenance of clean lorries, proper offloading of material to ensure no residue is there to be sprayed around after the lorry is unloaded, regular checks of lorries to ensure they don’t break down in the middle of the road causing jams.
  3. Checks on the load levels of lorries to ensure that they run smoothly and don’t cause excessive stress damage to the roads.
  4. Pollution checks (Phew! I almost laugh sometimes when cops catch bikers and car drivers to check for emission certificates, what about the trucks that bellow out thick black smoke!!)
  5. Have routine checks against lorries / trucks that carry mud / construction material to see that they are clean, and don’t spill around the residue.
  6. Have some kind of rules that lorries can not carry dangerously protruding metal rods. 
Such simple measures will go a long way in ensuring that we have
  1. A Less polluted environment
  2. Good, dust free roads
  3. Safe driving on roads
  4. Lesser traffic jams caused by broken down lorries 
Last but not the least, I appeal to one and all Bangaloreans that it is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to ensure a safe, good Bangalore to live in and enjoy our lives. It is we who will make this another world class city or another burdened, loaded city where we can just exist, not live.
And this is for all the working class people – Next time around:
  • Think twice before driving off in the wrong direction to avoid a few hundred metres and a U Turn! If someone thinks this is imaginary stuff, please come to Hoody junction at ITPB Road in the morning between 8:30 am to 9:30 am, and I bet you can count at least 50 vehicles coming on the opposite side of the road! Belive me, many of these are engineers and educated people working in the Mecca of IT industry.
  • Leave 10 to15 minutes earlier than you are doing now (for your drive) – just to avoid that extra speed and honking, and see how this considerably reduces your stress levels and improves your health!
  • Understand that everyone on the road has to reach somewhere urgently, and that you are not the only one who has that most important meeting
  • Those who drive cars, ensure that you have good music to listen to or a good book to catch up when the jam occurs (it inevitably will!)
  • Think twice before you throw your waste paper, empty cans, bottles on the road.
  • Ever wondered why in European countries and other so called developed countries these things do not happen?! Because the janata there, does not know these things – they have never seen anyone do them, and as a result they don’t  do it!
  • Remember, the children of today are watching us, and they will for sure learn all these traits from us, in addition to all the good things that they learn from us! So, it is in our hands to see what they learn…
What is the essence of these rumblings? Well… I have tried to give just one example of bad roads and traffic condition – how some amount of analysis can bring about a totally different solution. The essence is:
  1. The plans and projects for development should be holistic in approach and solve tomorrow's problems also.
  2. Do one round of fundamental analysis of why today's problems are existing and try to come out with basic, simple, cost effective solutions rather than bragging on development alone.
  3. Bring out simple, small changes in our daily routines and lives to make our Bengaluru a far better place to live and enjoy this journey of life. 
I have just tried to put things in a different perspective - that we as citizens of Bangalore, have to bear the pains of this rapid development. We need to realize that there is no immediate relief from the problems. But if we act and identify simple measures, life can be a lot more tolerable in these turbulent, painstaking times!
ssheragu's picture

bangalore in the pangs of development

ssheragu my view / comment is any development which results in good utility like malls on one hand and introduces traffic jams (without the malls having any parking space) is NOT DEVELOPMENT AT ALL (1) first and foremost is to segregate residential and commercial buildings / constructions; otherwise all residential layouts will end up being like INDIRANAGAR where residences and commercial buildings are practically alternate to each other (2) secondly all commercial buildings or hosuing complexes should be sanctioned only if they are able to offer parking space for twice the number of their clientile or apartment owners respectively many thanks Srinath Heragu comment guidelines

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