Unlocking Bangalore?

There is a huge debate on "Unlocking Bangalore", prominent (sic) people have joined issues. Seriously, this seems so misleading because issues like roads, indiscriminate tree felling, airports have become the major target areas.

Remember that not too long back, the commercial transport lobby went on a protest strike against speed governors? Local taxis also joined in sympathy. Did you notice the huge – HUGE difference in the traffic sans these IT/BPO staff bearing taxis? Same roads, same tree lines, same junctions – Bangalore was unlocked during those two days. No jams, no road rage and we reached our respective work stations in less than half the time it normally takes us. Saved millions of man hours, liters of gas, spared us the recklessness of cab drivers and converted these lost man hours into productivity. Let us interpret this in economic terms. And pray who was using these taxis most of all if not almost entirely? Did these sectors give a holiday to their staff for those two days? I wonder. Did they make alternate arrangements? Probably. Is there a message in this? Definitely.

The IT and BPO sectors have invested in real estate in various parts of Bangalore, they encourage the additions of passenger vehicles to our roads. This sector demands wider roads instead of dedicated private/public monorails from city terminals to their offices. All this is at the cost of the green cover, which dwindling day by day. The average citizen ends up paying for the conveniences of one sector among many.

Just look at your residential neighbourhoods. Do they look any better than concrete slums? An IT/ITES/BPO office in every road and corner of residential areas invites other service essentials like eateries etc., it clogs my road with parked vehicles, it takes away my privacy and decent living because we have IT vehicle drivers easing themselves all over my compound walls. They add to the garbage generation which BBMP can not clear. It takes away the playing and walking space of my children, it takes away the space and security of the elderly. They can not walk safely on the footpaths, because there are two wheelers parked all over, they can not cross the road without fear of being knocked down by a taxi, recklessly driven by the driver. Where should they go?

And the Government does not help to plan or create a better environment either for the IT-ian or other residents.

As a resident, I feel deprived of my space, deprived of my rights and privileges due to me as a responsible citizen and honest tax payer. I feel I am being taxed to pay for conveniences of IT and allied sectors, more than they are prepared to pay for themselves.

IT is more than welcome; in fact they deserve our admiration and we applaud their contribution to India’s economy. IT is India’s strength today and hopefully should remain so for foreseeable future. They have got the country a global recognition and IT employees deserve to be fully rewarded.

Point is we are concerned about what it costs the citizen of Bangalore and is this privileged sector paying enough for what they expect Bangalore to give? There is a price that each of us must pay for our needs, I am sure it is no pleasure for the ITian to travel long distances at all odd hours, work under pressure, and get back through the horrendous traffic.

It is the IT corporates who have to take the call for giving back to the citizen his spaces in Bangalore. The industry should contribute to improving and even maintaining basic infrastructure. They have made huge profits – kudos to them, but they have certainly not given back to community. Some thoughts:

1. They could build serviced apartments and community housing for families, with all facilities within their huge Parks/work places. This would result in decongesting residential areas and release the pressure on roads and living spaces in the existing areas.
2. They could move corporate offices away from core city area and residential areas and relocate in new industrial areas earmarked in Master Plan.
3. Within the city corporation areas, they could buy properties in adjacent areas of their offices, to create multi-level parking spaces for all its employees and visitors, instead of using roads or usurping footpaths for parking.
4. Collectively initiate steps to start a dedicated state of the art monorail (with piped music!) from Bangalore’s existing railway station(s) to IT Parks, in partnership with Railways. Roads, trees would be spared
5. They could introduce passenger Helicopter services from their respective "Parks" to commute to the airport(s), sparing the ordinary mortals to use roads with some relief.

BUT ALL THIS REQUIRES INVESTMENT – Who will bell the cat?

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