When a Bengalurean didn’t want Bengaluru to become big

"Everyone will buy cars... Traffic jams will start" - A visionary had predicted Bengaluru's problems 40 years ago.

T N Seetaram is a well-known name in Kannada literary circles, and popular for his TV soap operas that had progressive outlook and strong women characters. He recollects a time in Bangalore’s history, when there was no traffic and chaos, and there was no BDA too. BDA was formed on January 6, 1976 – exactly 40 years ago.

In the seventies, I was living in my friend’s house, as a tenant, in Swimming Pool Extension near Malleshwaram. The owner of the house, the father of my friend Krishnamurthy, never used to collect rent from me, more because of his affection towards me rather than my poverty. He had ordered that I have my food at his home, and it was a pleasure to be living as a paying guest in this old Bengaluru.

Lankesh was my guru—I used to travel from Swimming Pool extension to his house at Govindappa Road in Gandhi Bazaar on a scooter. Seven-eight other friends used to drop in too. We would have long chats, which were sessions of enlightenment and entertainment. Our ‘Meshtru’ Lankesh had a lot of general knowledge and a good sense of humour. We could travel from Malleshwaram to his place just in 10-12 minutes or less – the traffic was very less those days.

One evening, I saw Prof M D Nanjundaswamy sitting there. He had returned from Germany two years ago. He had an exceptional intellect, he was a member of Samajwadi Yuva Jana Sabha and was a great activist. Every activism he jumped into had a progressive social angle. We also sometimes jumped into activism along with him, and had to visit courts and police now and then.

That particular day, the government had declared that City Improvement Trust Board (CITB) would be transformed into Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). CITB used to the work BDA does now — developing layouts, selling sites etc. The conversation between me and Nanjunda Swamy was like this:

“Where do you come from?”

“Malleshwaram, sir.”

“How long did it take for you to reach here?”

“A quarter of an hour, sir… why?”

“In next five years, it will take half an hour for you to reach from there to here. Let’s organise a protest tomorrow. Bring all your friends!”

I did not understand anything. I asked him what was it all about.

“Didn’t you read today’s government decision? Look what these stupid fellows are doing! It seems they are converting CITB into BDA! Bangalore Development Authority – isn’t Bangalore developed enough? Already the city has developed three kilometres beyond the Kempegowda towers! If they keep on creating layouts, all the businessmen in the country will come here and camp! All industrialists will say they will open industries here! The government will offer them acres of land. There won’t be any Kannadigas available to see in Bangalore later. Everyone will buy cars. These roads are made for cycles, will they withstand the pressure if every house buys cars? Traffic jams will start. How can you reach Gandhi Bazaar in 15 minutes? Sites are now available for 30,000 – after five years each site will cost 30-40 lakhs. Can common man buy a site? Every family in the state will want to live in Bangalore, and will come and settle here. There won’t be any space to put the garbage produced here! Is this right – what these people have done? That’s why we need to protest!”

“What do we protest, sir?”

“Let’s ask for BMA, let’s say no to BDA!”

“What is BMA?”

“Bangalore Maintenance Authority… we don’t want development — we need maintenance. Bangalore should not develop anymore—for this we have to protest..”

“If there are no industries, we will be the losers, right?”

“Why do you want all factories in Bangalore? Let them open it in Hassan, Chamarajanagar, Gauribidanur.. then those villages will develop. Bangalore will also be peaceful!”

We protested for two days in Cubbon Park. We even surrounded a minister called Ghalappa. We organised a press conference. The government just did not care – the powers be dismissed the statements as the illusions of Prof Nanjundaswamy.

Today it took me exactly 1.5 hours for me to reach from Malleshwaram to Gandhi Bazar. Sites are being sold in our area for 3.5 crores. And there is garbage everywhere!

Prof Nanjundaswamy had a great vision. He should have become the chief minister of Karnataka.

(Written originally in Kannada, translated by Shree D N)


  1. Dr. Rekha Jagannath says:

    Most of the old Bangaloreans don’t like Bangalore growing any more.

  2. Ramesh Sreekantan says:

    So did the author drive or ride a cycle yesterday? Its easy to point fingers and blame others.

  3. Kanth King says:

    Being born and brought up in bangalore I no longer love this place, I wish everyone it was under developed so I could live more happily..

  4. Devanand k says:

    The author talks about developing other parts of the states so that the population is dipersed, by this most problems Bangalore is facing today would not have happened. Most Politicians lack a vision and people who have vision and clear plan for the future are not liked by the masses that is the unfortunate truth

  5. vijay says:

    I am Bangalorean by Birth, there was was one Binnymill, and binnypet where the citizens were living I belonged to that area which now remains a history, K R Market was a pleasure to watch, which is now stinking, where is the question of clearing garbage. All politicians are busy making money out of Bangalore.In the name of development,.peace of old bangaloreans is looted. When will this city stop ruining., may be after our death.

  6. Nitin says:

    This is the price of development every single person in Bangalore has to pay(native and settlers). What he predicted is absolutely right. Although development cannot be controlled thanks to the ever growing population and ever increasing vote bank, authorities can definitely plan the growth and safeguard the precious resources for which the city was renowned for. But why would authorities bother as their pockets are regularly filled by the rich.

  7. veera raju says:

    Through out the world urban centres are the one which has maximum population density .If you take south korea 40% of population is in Seoul .Govt does not have vision which results in complete mess of indian cities

  8. Baskaran An says:

    “Why do you want all factories in Bangalore? Let them open it in Hassan, Chamarajanagar, Gauribidanur.. …”

    what a visionary ! Problem with Bangalore is CONCENTRATION. (same holds good for other india cities, which are capital of chaos in the world )

    So the only solution is D I S P E R S E .

  9. mahesh says:

    it oly haunts and hurts to see today’s bendakaluru! (ps-wish ur meshtru lankesh could have imparted atleast a bit of his general knowledge and good sense to his daughter G lankesk)

  10. Prabhu 1234 says:

    born n brought up in bng… i am feeling sick and suffocated every day… things that have changed significantly are the quality of air,the traffic,what the hell happened to those broad and wide trees????… it is no longer the garden city.. roads in Basavanagudi and Gandhi Bazaar where we used play cricket is turned into parking lots.. and the people (outsiders) are absolute piece of trash.. i hope we have one huge earthquake or pandemic to save the city…

  11. Satish Kumar says:

    water scarcity,garbage,pollution,traffic,power problem, corruption, population explosion, concrete jungle, pillion rider helmet rules. Where is bangalore heading? 🙁

  12. Manasa R says:

    I thoughts come into all the people who have stayed in Bangalore since 70’s or even 90’s. we felt Bangalore as heaven, the weather and shade of the tress and cleanliness that used to be follwed by each of them. Its was so good then. Everyday I been worrying on this stage of Bangalore we have reached to. Its high time we need to take some intiative to control all the migration to here be it be an industries or the IT sectors.

  13. Joseph Gonsalo says:

    I am born and brought up in the Fraser town area. Fraser town has become such a mess, which so much of commercial activities, all the old British built houses have been pulled down and high rise buildings have come up. In the earlier days we used to sparrows coming into the house, the cool morning walks, and the friendly neighborhood. The unplanned growth of the IT industry has spoilt bangalore. Property prices have gone up 500 times, crime is so rampant, people who have come into the city have diluted the local culture, there is garbage water problem, parking your car infront of your own house is not possible, everything has become so expensive, There needs to be a citizen initiative of Old bangaloreans coming to gether, to stop all this non sense that is happening in this city. The State Government is the first culprit to be handled. They have been giving clearances to so many companies to set up shop in the city with out any planning. People who come from other cities do not have any sentiments as old bangaloreans do, as they have not born or had any of their roots over here. It is time Old and dear bangaloreans come together to save this wonderful city. Our City Bangalore. Stop the spread of more companies, take the growth to other cities.

  14. jignasa sash says:

    The development in Bangalore is comparitively more than any state. The three kilometers development in decades bought tears. That is a past. Two fools are talking in television like fools in the news channel and the program is called thalharte.So many fools in the numerous news channels. The demonitisation of money is not effecting the bangalore people. There is something which is not in tune which lacks discipline. The main reason is corruption. Foreign banks have found its place in Bangalore. This has further lead to the software firms were established. There is violation in rules and the lands have been converted to real estate and highrise buldings. Bangalore can no more grow in terms of highrise buildings and concrete metro stations. Any how there is a Japan which will help us. The charm of the state lies in the beauty of the Trees, plants, vegetation, atmosphere and the culture.

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