Bengaluru’s rollercoaster into 2011

With the city burgeoning and almost bursting, with the maximum growth in the years post 2000, it is a good time to take stock how we got here.

In 2000, it was still BMP managing 100 wards. How have things shaped up since then?

The quiet bean town became the centre of world’s attention practically overnight and since then the city’s infrastructure is only been playing catch up. Hasty road-widenings with arbitrary plans of TDRs, relocation of slums without a though tto the urban poor’s basic needs, large-scale corruption by local civic bodies in land allocation and building rights are all in the recent memory. In 2000, it was still BMP managing 100 wards and Prema Cariappa was the Mayor. Ward Committees existed briefly, but were not very effective. How have things shaped up since then?

Illustration: Sneha Prasad.

In 2002, Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) was formed. New bus shelters and toilets were built. They removed the garbage bins from street corners and introduced door-to-door garbage collection. The scheme didn’t work very well. Garbage bins disappeared forever but piles of garbage are still seen at street corners.

Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) council was dissolved on November 23, 2006 to make way for the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP). Though the BBMP was actually formed in January 2007 once the government issued a notification merging the 100 wards under BMP with seven city municipal councils (CMCs), one town municipal council (TMC) and 111 villages around the city to form a single administrative body. The aim was that the BBMP would be the solution to the infrastructure, civic and administrative woes of the expanding city. Year 2006, also brought out the garbage contract renewal controversy. Efforts of water privatisation by the government received major flak from activists and residents alike and the project was dropped.  2007 saw introduction of the Akrama Sakrama plan for property tax payments.

In 2008, the city got its first Magic Box underpass at Cauvery junction, which turned out to be anything but magical. The underpass was built using new cost-effective technology in 35 days instead of the earlier claim of 48 hours. The magic box introduced a new set of woes. The first hitch was the absence of pedestrian crossings and the second was traffic jams. Traffic from Sadashivanagar got clogged at the mouth of the underpass, especially during peak hours, resulting in chaotic situations.

Illustration: Sneha Prasad.

In 2009 Bengaluru saw beautification as BBMP launched its project to paint the city walls. Not everyone loved the project but it did provide temporary employment to more than 60 banner artists. About seven lakh square feet of wall along main roads and bridges, mostly in the west zone of the city has been painted with paintings from mythology, temples, palaces, history and nature.

We consider BBMP elections, road-widening and land allocation controversies, increased active participation from the RWAs in the city’s governance and the Metro rail test run as the highlights of 2010. What’s your take?

We consider BBMP elections, road-widening and land allocation controversies, increased active participation from the RWAs in the cityís governance and the Metro rail test run as the highlights of 2010.

One significant development over these years is more enthusiastic participation in public discourse by Residents Associations and civil society groups. From protesting against Akrama Sakrama to fielding candidates in BBMP elections, from protesting road widening to rejuvenating lakes, they have kept many issues alive in public eye and been active participants in improving the city.

What’s your take?

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