The city is tired of its inhabitants. It’s puking all over the place. People live here to earn a livelihood but give very little back to the city. Everyone doesn’t have to be a Kejriwal to sit on the road and protest. But, doesn’t the city deserve a little bit of care?
Bengaluru, the new city of opportunities, a city of literates, a heaven for the middle-class dwellers, a city that once saw its local government and its people planting saplings on every road not worrying about the space to drive cars or even walk, is now being laughed at by the people inhabiting it as well as those living elsewhere in the country!
When the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), India’s premier science research institute founded in the city in 1904, published a report claiming that Bengaluru will be dead in 5 years, the social denizens went gung-ho about the report. Many celebrated because they had predicted this. Those who were jealous of the city’s growth were now feeling happy deep-down in their guts because Bengaluru, once called the garden city of India, was now declared a ‘dying city’. The report had claimed that the city had already lost 80% of its vegetation. Some bloggers went on to declare that the city is ‘dead already’ thanks to its perennial garbage problems and traffic woes.
Yet, I hoped for a better city. I grew up here, after all. I have seen the city when it was in its prime. I still remember the greenery, the flower-decked roads of Richmond Town, a mostly empty Jayanagar, a haunted Bannerghatta Road. Whitefield was a village far far away and Peenya was a well-developed industrial suburb for entreprenuer. I feel sad to see the city being betrayed by its own people even as politicians treat it like a rich chaunvinist male treats his muse. The city, in my eyes, has turned into that woman who everyone likes to sleep with but wouldn’t dare take her home! That’s the harsh reality!
I cannot let this city die. I do my bit to save it, everyday. My employer provides transport to and from work and I don’t hesitate to to use don’t use it. It’s often inconvenient to use company shutrle, but I use it. I don’t use my private vehicle even on weekends. I don’t litter the city. , I collect all the chocolate wrappers and tissue papers in my own bag. When I don’t have a bag around, I dump these things in my trousers. I try to educate the people around me that they too have to contribute towards the city’s health.
But, it’s not enough. It won’t be enough because there are people who drive to office everyday in their SUVs and sedans, spending hours together on the road, and blaming the government for the congestion. These are people who think of driving on city’s roads as their birth-right. When such people increase in a city, governments take steps to rectify the traffic bottlenecks in the only way they know – by building flyovers.
Flyovers satisfy our egos. When we talk about US cities, Chinese cities and Singapore we talk flyovers. Zooming cars are what we Indians always dream of. We don’t dream of efficient mass-transit systems like Metro, Trams and BRTS. European countries have never been our role-models, unfortunately.
Multiple governments have built flyovers in Bengaluru. Some have been useful. Most have been useful in shifting the traffic bottleneck from one place to the other. In the last decade, tens of thousands of well-grown gulmohars and rain-trees have been sacrificed for widening roads and building flyovers in order to satiate the infinite hunger of our self-centric and egoistic car-owners. High Courts and Session Courts have been fooled, time and again, by corrupt officials who promise compensatory planting of saplings ‘elsewhere in thr city’. Not once have we questioned the species that were planted in the city or the locations ahere they planted.
Localities that lost trees are still barren. Places that never saw a ray of sunlight touching the earth now turn red-hot in the summers. Massive rain-trees have been replaced by Honge trees in the garb of planting native trees; and these trees hardly provide any shade. This time around, BDA has gone a step ahead and announced that it will plant 60,000 “ornamental” saplings to compensate for these full-grown trees.
Siddu’s government is hell-bent on building a 6.7 km long steel flyover that includes a massive steel bridge that will be placed in a locality that was once among the most beautiful localities in the city. Trees marked this entire 6.7 km stretch once, on either side of the road. The gold course maintained by Bangalore Golf Club only added to the beauty. Imagine a mammoth steel-bridge built there. Imagine Bengaluru losing 800 more well-grown trees.
1600 CRORES can replace the entire aging fleet of BMTC whose buses were once known to be the best maintained in the country. 1600 CRORES can build 16 kms of Metro line in the city. 1600 CRORES can revive a few lakes in the city.
No!! Let’s just build that steel flyover!
NOTE: A massive protest is being planned on the 6.7 km stretch between Chalukya circle and Hebbal flyover by different residential associations and NGOs. A non-violent human chain covering the entire distance is being planned to protest against building the ill-conceived project. As a Bengalurean, it’s your duty towards this beautiful city, to support the initiative. A few associations and organizations cannot save Bengaluru. Bengaluru now needs its 1 CRORE citizens to save it.