Arjun Tallam, in his forties, managing partner at Rasilaas Fine Dine restaurant in JP Nagar VII phase, Kotnoor Dinne main road says that three years ago when he opened the restaurant there wasn’t a proper road. Residents and traders of the area approached MLA Vijaykumar (Jayanagar, JP Nagar constituency) and got a road laid in 2007. Excited, he describes how the footfalls and profits grew once the road was done.
But his excitement dies down soon when he talks about the underpass construction that started in 2008 and subsequent reduce in footfalls.
“Our footfalls have gone down by more than 35 per cent and the profit margin has gone down by almost 45-50 per cent,” says Tallam. He adds that he had customers coming not just from JP Nagar but also from Banashankari, Jayanagar and as far as Rajajinagar. “People think a thousand times if they have to come here now, I do not get those customers anymore,” says Tallam expressing his despair.
Underpass construction work at intersection of J P Nagar’s 15th Cross Ring Road, a critical artery in south Bangalore, and the 24th Main Road, started in June 2008. As a result, most of the roads that lead to JP Nagar VII and VIII phases have been dug up right around the beginning of the underpass construction.
People coming from Koramangala, Indranagar, MG Road and other places have to travel 25 to 30 minutes more to reach JP Nagar VII phase and VII phase as a result of road diversions because of the underpass construction. The notice board put up by BBMP when the construction started mentioned that by February 2009, the underpass will be built. BBMP so far has not promised any fresh deadline. More than six months past its deadline, there is no sign of completion, much to the distress of businessmen around this area.
At JP Nagar VII phase, in Gauravnagar, on Kothnoor Dinne main road, there are more than 40 shops on a stretch of four kilometres. Shopkeepers here mostly relied on business from commuters passing through this area. They say the prolonged underpass construction have affected their businesses even forcing some of them to close their shops.
“Some have even left the city and gone back to their native places and some have opened stores elsewhere in the city,” adds Tallam. A Sify internet café, Supreme footwear store, a steel ware shop, grocery shop are some to name a few. All of these were not big shops, they did not have hi-end products and catered to middle class. He also feels that this is one reason it is becoming difficult for all the traders to team up and approach the authorities.
According to most traders in the locality, it is the small traders who are the worst hit.
Prakash a middle-aged store manager of an Ayurvedic medicine store sits all day in the store waiting for customers, he says that some people were coming recently to buy the anti-swine flu immunity booster, but now that number has also gone down.
Moving away from the VII phase and coming towards VI phase, the story is the same. Hotel Inchara is one of the biggest businesses in VI phase and has been running for nine years. Dayanidhi (Dinesh), the proprietor, in his forties, blames it all on the unorganised government work and feels that putting the right contractors at the right place will speed up the process.
Talking about the businesses in the area he says that the entire area is facing losses. “More than eight shops have closed down and people have either gone back to their home towns or elsewhere in the city,” he explains. One such shop is Happy Eatery Street, near Inchara Hotel. Others are small grocery and stationery stores, most have even removed their shop names.
Bus routes have taken a hit
As a result of the digging-up of roads most city buses have changed routes and only a few come to VII and VIII phases of JP Nagar. “No buses can come through the RBI layout in JP Nagar VII phase now (since the past one and a half years),” says G Jagadish, president of Federation of JP Nagar 7th and 8th phase resident’s welfare association.
Jagadish says that the federation holds meetings with the BBMP once in every two months but off late there has been no response or action taken by the BBMP on citizen’s troubles.
Bus routes 215 W, Y,S, C have now either stopped or take diverted routes causing inconvenience to commuters. Bus routes 215 S and G have totally stopped coming to Kothnoor. Other routes such as 215 W and Y used to come to Kothnoor and 4th Block via Konankunte but they do not come through this route anymore. Most buses do not cover the road connecting RBI layout and Jambu Savari, and stop at Jambu Savari and people have to walk almost 2 kms to reach RBI Layout.
“Ready in a ‘few’ months”
All of this does not seem to bother the BBMP. Engineer-in-Chief A K Gopalswamy asks people to have patience and promises that they will prosper once the underpass is ready. “A number of issues right from changing the contractor to mending of BWSSB pipelines and then solving land acquisition issues, have been reasons for the delay. But now work has started in full swing and the underpass will be ready in a few months,” he explains.
Initially intended to be BBMP’s magic underpass, JP Nagar underpass construction has eventually given citizens a never ending saga of troubles. The underpass doesn’t look nearing its completion and so do the troubles.