"The city is getting beautiful," says the A K Gopalswamy, Engineer-in-Chief of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike (BBMP). Amidst all the criticism, he believes that the on-going road widening drive, the newer malls under construction, new roads, Metro rail, and so on are part of this ‘beautification’.
The recently dug-up Seshadripuram Main Road in northwest Bengaluru is evidence of this. The granite footpath on this road has been removed by the BBMP as part of work to install a new concrete pavement. This road, like most of the lanes and roads of Seshadripuram, had a footpath made of granite slabs. In the first week of December, the section on the road right opposite to the State Bank of India was dug up and the granite slabs were removed.
Piles of granite slabs now lie on the side of the road. The labourers working there are busy in digging the rest of the footpath. One of them, Manjunath, a middle-aged worker, says that they are working overtime because they have to finish making the footpath by the end of this month. The new footpath, with concrete tiles, will look stylish once redone, said one of the other workers who was busy digging.
A walk in Seshadripuram is enough to tell a person that it isn’t one of those recently developed areas of the city, like Koramangala. There are not many modern looking buildings or branded showrooms in every second lane. There are crowds in small shopping complexes and large number of people shop for vegetables from the footpath, and not from speciality supermarkets. All the footpaths in the lanes of this area are also made of granite slabs. They give an old time touch to the lanes and the main roads too.
Do people living in Seshadripuram not like granite footpaths? Do they want them to be dug up? "I have no clue what prompted BBMP to dig this footpath, it was proper. In fact, since it has been dug up, people are unable to reach our shops and we have to face the brunt", explains Alpesh Sagar, owner of Mathura Marbles, a shop on Seshadripuram Main Road, which is now dug up.
Another shopkeeper, G K Ramachandra, has a bakery on that road and always has a crowd in his shop. "From the day it was dug up, even if people want to come, they have to jump and come and so many of them simply go away looking at this work," he says. While none of the shopkeepers know why the footpath was dug up, some of them are totally unaware that there will be a concrete footpath from now.
The residents are equally clueless. K Ananthan, who lives near Seshadripuram Main Road says that he, initially, thought that the BBMP is leveling the uneven footpath and will put the granite back in its place, but only after enquiring with the workers he realised that this was a step to concretise the place. "I do not understand the need to concretise this place", he adds. The labourers, on the other hand, are working overtime to finish this concretisation.
While the road has piles of granite slabs on its side, people are also unaware of where these slabs will be going. Manjunath says that he has been told by the BBMP not to worry about the slabs and only concentrate on digging them out and placing the new concrete tiles. He is joined by his co-workers, some of whom say that the BBMP takes care of the slabs, usually, by evening or the next morning of digging them. The slabs are taken away by the BBMP in trucks or small tempos. According to BBMP’s Gopalswamy, the slabs are now dumped in the BBMP head office.
Gopalswamy is, in general, reluctant to talk in detail about this project. He says that the granite footpath was uneven and because of this, people were experiencing troubles. While he does not have copies of the complaints with him ready, he claims that for the past two years, shopkeepers of Seshadripuram Main Road have been complaining about the uneven footpath. The new footpath is proposed because it will ‘certainly beautify’ the place, he says.
Gopalswamy says that the collected granite slabs will be re-used in other development projects lined up, but does not give any details about the projects. He insists that all the main roads in Seshadripuram and elsewhere will now get a ‘facelift’ with concrete tiles. New concrete pavements will come up soon in areas that do not have pavements at all, he adds. ⊕