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A most compelling story

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Metro RailPublic Transport

I was born and raised in Bangalore in a traditional old bungalow in the heart of the city in National College Circle in Basavangudi. It was gifted to me by my late aunt with much love over 20 years ago. To my great sorrow, this property will soon be destroyed by the disastrous planning of the 'Namma Metro'.

I say enough, it is not 'Nimma Ooru'. It is 'Namma Ooru', whether one has lived here for 50 years or 5 months. It should not become Nimma metro, planned by ever changing bureaucrats with no coordination or consideration for the residents. Bangalore needs infrastructure that is effective, yet does not cause needless harm and inconvenience to its residents. We need the government to come up with a comprehensive, coordinated development plan. One that is open to public scrutiny, comment and approval. I understand that the government wants Nimma metro to project the image of the new Bangalore. Fine, let it go underground as has been done in major cities — even in Stalinist Russia, they went underground. If they could go underground in London a century ago, then surely with the amazing technology we have now, it should be quite easy to do so here. Moreover, Nimma metro should use public land when above ground and for heaven's sake, take down our ill planned flyover to make way for it. Only when all this is done will it truly be a Namma Metro, one that we can all proudly stand behind. We do not need to destroy the past and present to make way for the future. We do not need to lose the soul of the city to gain the world.

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Today, it is this lady's home. Tomorrow, it could be yours. Is this the kind of development we want?

Muralidhar Rao


Vinay's picture

Disappointed that it is not underground

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I was assuming that the metro would be underground. I was quite surprised when I found out a few months back, that only a very small portion will be underground. I feel that the MG road portion, as well as the portions cutting through core areas like Basavanagudi, CMH Road, etc. should have been underground.

Yes, it's more expensive and all that - but in the overall analysis it wouldn't be that much more expensive. Think of escalation and cost overruns due to countless litigation, PILs, protests and demonstrations. And what about the environment? Trees etc..

Having tracks underground, and most of the station underground, BMRCL should have been given control of the real estate at the stations. In German stations, we have supermarkets, stores, and in some cases even complete shopping malls inside underground stations!! I was visualizing something like that when I first heard of the metro. Fat chance..

Since we have gone ahead with this policy of having the trains on pillars, nothing can be done now about the beautiful structures and trees, sad as it sounds.

asj's picture

A sham

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They call it a metro (for lay people this equates with = underground = poshness), but only 5km of Pune metro is underground (the number of kilometers keep shrinking year after year once they realise the costs), everything else is elevated.

So the whole reason for considering a metro in crowded inner city (ie. lack of space) has left aside.

What all this will do to cityscape is a different matter. Never mind those unlucky souls living near these elevated tracks as they will have a eyesore and an earache to deal with (unless more ugly looking noise barriers are also added to the plan).

Vinay's picture

Though I have not done a cost analysis..

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Even though I have not done a cost analysis, I have a feeling that it is viable to have retail space in underground stations and allow the metro developers to rent it out. I have seen the effectiveness in Europe. Even though it is not always right to implement ideas which work in the West, I feel it will solve multiple problems in this case.

Anyway, all this is hypothetical talk since the Metro construction is already well underway.

Maybe the very best thing that can happen is to get hold of a huge huge portion of barren un - cultivable land and create a huge planned city, putting into practice all the lessons we've learnt. I'm dreaming of course, but nothing wrong with dreaming, huh? :-)

Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece destruction

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Acquiring Komer Srinivasa Iyengar's home is like acquiring the masterpiece homes of Frank Lloyd Wright for Pennsylvania rail!

I wrote a strongly toned message to the top honchos of Namma Metro on this regard. I wanted to bring up this topic during the meeting, but i am not in the country at present.

Below is a copy of my letter which I addressed to N Sivasailam, B S Sudhir Chandra and Mr Pahuja as well as Smt Malini, the niece of Komer Srinivasa Iyengar.

To Whom it may concern,

As a supporter of Namma Metro, especially with regard to cases such as Namma Metro Vs CMH Road residents and Namma Metro Vs Mahakavi Kuvempu Road residents, I am plain disgusted to note that Namma metro does not care a inch about our city's heritage.
This is with regard to acquisition of Shri Komer Srinivasa Iyengar's masterpiece home in Basavangudi. This is the equivalent of acquiring Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece homes in Pennsylvania for a rail road!

I am sure the head honchos of Namma metro such as yourselves are not from Bangalore and much less care about our culture. It is just another pay cheque for all of you.

It is often said that the "devil" in in the details. Just by sitting in your air conditioned offices and not visiting facts on ground, you assume that the home of Komer Srinivasa Iyengar is just another property to be acquired.

Please consider this strongly worded letter as a strong note of protest. When people like me, strong supporters of the Metro now start to criticise the Metro - then i think there is something terribly wrong with the actions of the Metro.

Since i am also a supporter of Kannada culture - i plan to write to the Department of Kannada and Culture, the Urban Arts Commission as well as Karnataka Rakshana Vedike should the acquisition of Komer Srinivasa Iyengar's home continue.

I hope you will all exercise caution and foresight on this regard.


Malolan R Cadambi,
Malleswaram, Bengaluru.
flanker's picture

Home of Komer Srinivasa Iyengar

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Pardon my ignorance. What's with "home of Komer Srinivasa Iyengar". I couldn't find it on Google image search. Can somebody post the photo. Curious to see the architecture.

Original PIL

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The house is a personal property now and I doubt Smt Malini Srirama, it's current resident and owner has put up a lot of pictures.

The big problem with Heritage homes in Bangalore now is that the current residents and descendants do not even have the money to maintain such homes.

Homes of great people like Diwan M N Krishna Rao are under constant threat. Even homes of Diwan P N Krishnamurthy are private property.

In Pune, i read that the Pune Municipal Corporation does not allow heritage homes to be destroyed and pays for their upkeep as well.

I am frankly glad that Justice Abdul Nazir has stayed the dispossesion of the property.
psaram42's picture

Murali sir, only thing permanent is change

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It is one of the important laws of nature. One can only live in present, think of future and the past... is past. The past is a treasure of experience which one can use for the benefit of the present and the future.
asj's picture


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Like a river, nothing is static (so they say).

But, I suggest people read Covey's approach to change. He argues that values and principles do not change and when change is not influenced by core set of values, the outcomes are poor.

Last year my brother in law came to UK after a gap of 2 years. He looked around and said not much has changed. I then pointed out a building (3 floors tall) and said, this is brand new. He could not stop laughing and said, I took that for a Victorian structure.

In fact the bricks used had to be custom made to keep the buildings architecture in line with rest of the street.

Change can be managed and regulated (democratically).

What level of consultation has happened when grabbing these heritage sites? What type of Bangalore do people of the city want - another Mumbai? A concrete jungle?

Lets blame ourselves though as we the citizens are not doing enough to modulate the change we have been asked to accept.


idontspam's picture


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Retaining heritage structures and maintaining an identity thru architecture can still be achieved without losing sight of the future. European cities are prime example. Even as they embark on new initiatives for the future, one walk thru the city will take you back centuries. It also has an effect on values and pride of the people of the city.

All it needs is making sure a small part of the old town of Bangalore keeps its historical look and feel. I can still see areas behind the ulsoor temple with the old style houses but in a delapidated state. The govt can take over some of these and keep them as museums for others to see.

All of these malaises we are pointing out stems from a lack of vison of how the people in the administration want Bangalore to be and its character. Last time I wrote about character of a city not many agreed, probably because they believed short term solutions was the need of the hour. I agree too but the short term solutions have to fit into the long term vison.

If avenue road is to be preserved as an icon of old Bangalore as a strategy then widening it would be the last thing one would want to do as a short term measure, you would look for alternatives.

Buildings in most of stockholm are not allowed to alter the facade. The outside will look old school you can mke the interiors look the way you want. This does not mean you cant have new buildings at all but there are different areas outside the old town where you can build these new buildings.
Naveen's picture

UG Metro Costs /Change is Unavoidable

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It is sad & tragic that the lady has to give up her dear house in VV Puram for the Metro project. There are many such examples - part of the Someshwar temple at Ulsoor comes to mind, as also thousands of beautiful, lush green trees that had sheltered pedestrians for decades. Bangalore's tree-lined avenues are slowly, but surely disappearing.

We have to accept change & it cannot be avoided. Some scarifices have to be made - the above are only a few examples. As rightly pointed out, changes can be managed to keep our roots intact. Take Salzburg - the small town by the bavarian alps on the German-Austrian border that still speaks of Mozart as if he were alive ! The streets still reminiscent of 19th century music & opera, or London where the beefeaters still parade outside Buckingham & the London taxi still operates as if it were still the beginning of the motor car era !

The Ph-1 routes of the Metro are aligned for best needs of the city, no doubt since it is aligned along the most dense coridors, but let's also think of something else - Costs.

There are many who say that Metro should have been 'buried' underground throughout. The new Metros in Asia (Singapore, KL, Bangkok, Chinese cities) also have large parts of the alignments running elevated, & only the least possible lengths below the ground. NewYork, Berlin Metros have large portions elevated. Even the London 'Underground' surfaces at some places. Underground sections are typically confined within only dense CBDs or where it is difficult to plan overhead, costs being very high for underground (both for construction & running as ventilation, lighting, etc are recurring expenses).

Bangalore Metro Phase-1, consisting of 33km (7km underground) was estimated at 6395 crs (2006, with some 6% cost escalation each year). Thus, at 2012, it would be 9071 crs appx'ly).

The N-S extension (8.7km, no underground) is estimated at 1594 crs (2008). Thus, at 2012, it would be 2012 crs.

So, total Ph-1 costs would appx'ly be 11,083 crs for 41.7km, out of which abt 7km is underground, resulting in an average of over 265 crs per km.

We do not know how much the underground section/s are estimated to cost, but it would be fair to assume that it would cost appx'ly twice the cost for elevated tracks.

Thus, the cost splits would work out to appx'ly 227.6 crs per km for elevated & twice this amount (ie. 455.2 crs per km) for Underground.

If the entire length were to be 'buried' underground, the costs would be 41.7 x 455.2 = 18,982 crs.

The difference in costs for the present plan & costs for 'burying' it would be 18,982 - 11,083 = 7,899 crs, a steep hike indeed, over 70%.

asj's picture

IDS, I agree with you

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IDS, you are very correct. The vision is tunneled, very myopic. I work in a Victorian building, the looks from outside are untouched - inside we have all the gadgets needed. Change and growth have been given a lopsided meaning in India. ASJ
psaram42's picture

The most compelling story

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It is good to talk of values and principles for you and me. But for the poor people on the streets in India, the hunger pangs come first. When the stomach is sufficiently full then only we can talk about values and principles, that too if one is lucky to have the education to appreciate.

I do agree with your point, which is very well put across.

We are having a great time with our grand son who is one year old. I see him so excited when he hears the sound of the feeding bottle. My son avoids using the word milk, by making only a reference to “M-I-L-k” instead especially when his son is likely to hear the word, when he (his son) is hungry.

My worry is that, illiteracy in our country is increasing probably faster than the overall population. My son in law has an open invitation for any body that has the spare time and inclination for improving the literacy in our country. He can provide the means for the same.

My second worry is that there is a chance that the have-nots will be far more than the haves in near future. (I do not want to elaborate on the consequences)

asj's picture

How true

144 users have liked.

Its not just about you and me. Its vital for all of us.

Irony is corruption and selfishness has replaced the values/principles of humanity.

Indeed had principles and values been upheld, the divide between the Have's and Have nots would not prevail.

So, its not about me, you or others just talking, its come to a point where real change is possible when we make decisions that are in keeping with the values of humanity.


idontspam's picture

Social security & responsibility

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Social security is what will bridge the gap between haves and have nots... Our politicians, beuracrats and workers in the goverment need to feel that they have a responsibility to take the country to a new position in the world order. Unless there is a sense of ownership to results it is going to be an uphill battle. The last generation in the govt has lost the plot. Is the new one following in the footsteps or do they think different? Time will tell. Praja cant stop the efforts though. We may hit the tipping point. You can never tell.
Vinay's picture

Need not be completely 'buried'

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But, I'd have expected 'core areas' like MG Road, Basavanagudi, CMH Road, etc. to be underground. The portion of the metro that is underground is very less. All countries have a part of the metro above ground, of course. But that is generally not in the 'CBD'. How many more PILs, court cases, litigation, etc. will we see if the metro is above ground in core areas of the city? Will that not stretch timelines and escalate costs?

Correspondence with Metro

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I corresponded with the MD of Namma Metro and his attitude is one of the most crass ones ever witnessed. It is obvious that he cares less about Bangalore's heritage given that he himself is not a Bangalorean and not even a Kannadiga.

This is one big problem with these non-kannadigas who do not know anything about our city's heritage. For these immigrants and economic refugees, our city is nothing more than an ATM machine. This is why there is friction between kannadigas and non-kannadigas in Bangalore.

Those coming from outside dig their own graves. No wonder there is so much hatred between us and them.
s_yajaman's picture

There you go again

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Please - pretty much every one uses this city as an ATM - starting with our politicians.   Else it would not have reached this state.  The corruption that is rampant in every govt. office is not from outsiders alone. 


Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

I will file an Amicus brief

161 users have liked.
In this case, i will be filing an Amicus Curiae.

Here is what it is:

I just hope concerned citizens take strength from legal provisions.
Vinay's picture


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The corrupt politicians and bureaucrats are not outsiders. The policemen who refuse to register a case unless their palms are greased are not outsiders either. Several (not all) 'property developers' who encroach on lakes, forest land, and indulge in land grabbing, are not outsiders, are they? There are also 'outsiders' who have made Bangalore their home and are pucca 100% Bangaloreans, and who sometimes speak the language better than a 'native' like me. In most cases this 'outsider' phobia is just a way to play the blame game, instead of solving issues. If the administration and the people (both outsiders and us locals) perform their respective roles well, we'll all be better off.

idontspam's picture

Ad Hominem

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Personal attacks dont solve problems. I would expect better maturity by people on this forum.

Insiders Vs Outsiders not just a topic

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IMO, all those who brush aside calls for residency requirements for various government jobs such as Assistant Engineer in BDA / BBMP and even CEO of Namma Metro are just oversimplifying the issue.

It is not just insider Vs outsider. It has to do with many other topics, including sustainable immigration in view of the scarce resources we have. Lets face facts.

People living all their lives in Bangalore would better connect to the city and know what their city wants best. Local Traffic Committes and Resident Welfare Associations would be able to lobby actively with the respective ward councillors/ officials etc.

In this particular case, the officials at Namma Metro would have even demolished National College in Basavangudi without even realising the historic value of National College. I would not even blame members reading this if they do not know what kind of an institution and the kind of respect that National College commands.

Mr Sivasailam and co do not realise the value of old bangalore homes and easily buckle under pressure to change alingment in Lalbagh by usurping the historic green space!

Another big problem is with transfer rules. All officials such as Assistant Engineers posted with BBMP, BESCOM, BWSSB get transfered by the wink of an eye and cannot even stick on long term with their respective wards and complete all the projects on hand.

Whereas, if you have residency requirements, then local talent would better make use of resources and schemes available. This applies not only to wards, but to every level of government and even private sector jobs.
madhu_nr's picture

Metro going underground

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The whole thing has become a mess everywhere. BMRCL claims that the contractor is not doing a good job. What about their supervision and work ethics and standards. Have they not learnt anything from Delhi Metro? What is Sreedharan doing as consultant? They should definitely have gone underground in most areas, especially in congested areas where it is passing through. Today's high cost is tomorrow's savings. The whole thing has been planned without a proper vision. The execution is pathetic. CMH road is a complete mess. BMRCL made tall claims about executing work with minimal inconvenience to road users. They have taken away major part of the roads where they work and the portions left to public are full of slush and pot holes barely wide enough for a car. Can they not, at the least, level these portions and lay some tarmac? The foot paths have always been non-existant in CMH Road. Now, it is a nightmare. BMRCL's work is a complete disgrace. I hope their trains run one day with out falling on people's heads. Madhu


sandeepckeerthi's picture

Bringing down trees and buildings

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If we are anyway bringing down the trees and buildings to make way for the Metro, I am wondering why it has to be elevated..? May be it can be elevated at intersections (or the roads can themselves go below / above the Metro). Will this not help in the earlier completion of the Metro and also reduce costs..? Of course, what has already been earmarked for underground in the areas like Cubbon Park, Chikpet, etc can still be underground. At first, this may seem simplistic, but when we think of it, it does hurry up things. MG road would now have been fully motorable, who knows we may have been 3/4 way thru with Reach I.. comment guidelines

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