On June 29th, hundreds of JP Nagar residents took part in a peace walk from MLR Convention Centre to Nandini Junction along 24th Main road. Our walk was against the illegal commercialisation and bad traffic planning along this stretch.
Over 15,000 residents live around this 1.8 km-long stretch of 24th Main road. Thousands of commuters use it as well, but they take as much as 40-45 minutes to traverse it on a regular day. The reason is the unethical commercialisation of the area, which has led to infrastructure breakdown and deterioration of the neighbourhood.
As per the Revised Master Plan (RMP 2015), the land use along 24th Main road should be ‘residential (main)’ and ‘residential (mixed)’. Also, the road width is only 18 metres, as per the RMP. This implies that only a small proportion of the land can be used for commercial purposes.
But the road is flanked by commercial establishments along the entire stretch from MLR Convention Centre to Nandini Junction. Since many of these establishments do not have adequate parking facilities, their customers either park along the road or take frequent turns to find parking spaces. This creates traffic bottlenecks along the already-narrow road.
Some shops also extend out into the footpath, whereas some other footpath stretches are occupied by hawkers. Illegal constructions and hawkers have also been blocking the exits near Rose Garden Road, and the connecting roads near Puttenahalli. The stagnating traffic has increased air pollution in the area, and encroached footpaths make walking difficult for senior citizens.
Authorities have been ignoring our concerns for almost two years. Yet, for all the anger and frustration, we simply planned the peace walk to highlight our woes.
Rajesh Soundararajan, a resident who participated in the walk, said, “This stretch is choked because of the restaurants, breweries, fitness centres, hookah joints and supermarkets coming up each day, without any parking space for their customers.” Soundararajan is also a volunteer at the civic group Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB). He said the stretch has two large convention centres with an audience capacity of over 2500 as well.
Another resident Praful Dambal added, “What is unfortunate is that liquor shops, watering holes and hookah bars exist within 100-metre radius of at least four large schools here. We have sent our list of demands to the authorities, but no action has been taken yet.”
Petition to Puttenahalli corporator
The residents have submitted a petition to Prabhavathy Ramesh, corporator of Puttenahalli ward (187), requesting her intervention.
Some of the immediate issues highlighted in the petition were:
- Illegal commercialisation – hookah bars, microbreweries, restaurants and fitness centres likely operating without adequate licenses. These establishments also cause severe traffic jams
- Haphazard parking along 24th Main road, especially by visitors to MLR Convention Centre and Samskruti Brindavan
- The bottleneck near SLV Junction, White Horse restaurant, and near Grills and Rolls Junction
- The footpath being blocked by illegal shops, shop extensions and hawkers
- Drain water/sewage entering into apartments
- Problematic placing of bus stops near Nandhini, We Fitness and Big Market causing severe traffic jams. Private buses, like those run by Praveen Travels, worsen congestion
To resolve these issues, the petition lists the following demands:
- Re-laying/filling potholes in 24th main road
- Removing illegal encroachments from the street and footpath
- Stopping rampant commercialisation of residential areas. Ensure licenses are given only to establishments that have an NOC from residents, where applicable. Before issuing permits, ensure that establishments have adequate parking space for their peak capacity
- Ensuring that liquor licenses for MRP outlets, bars, pubs and microbreweries comply with government regulations. As per rules, these establishments cannot operate within 100 metres of schools. Also, ban hookah bars near schools
- Building and maintaining a safe, clean and walkable footpath
- Ensuring traffic discipline with zero tolerance to violations; regulate parking
- Install working streetlights and CCTVs for the safety of women, senior citizens and children
- Realign bus stops for seamless movement of traffic. Except school buses, all private buses should follow the route used by BMTC. BMTC buses ply along 24th Main in one direction only; they use the Puttenahalli road for return trips
- Make sure all alternative entry points are made ready before digging up 24th Main for major works like Metro or laying sewerage/fibre optic lines
- Ensure regular garbage collection and cleaning of drains. Ensure that the process of transferring garbage from autos to bigger vehicles at 24th Main road is streamlined, so as not to disrupt traffic
Residents have been raising these issues through letters to the traffic police, BBMP, corporator and the police commissioner. Recently, we also met MP Tejasvi Surya, requesting immediate action.
When we took the peace walk, we wondered, will the authorities take note and fix our issues? Will the Bengaluru Traffic Police provide sufficient personnel to monitor this road? We hope the authorities will soon deal with this pressing issue.