Bengaluru a.k.a Bangalore, was born 480 years ago according to popular history. Going by that history, this city was founded because of its water. Kempegowda I, a chieftain wandering in the barren plateau, was able to ‘boil his beans’ here and named the place ‘ Bendakalooru’ or ‘City of Boiled Beans’. He fell in love with the place and so did his son ‘Kempegowda II’.
It was the son who foresaw the city’s business potential and established it as a trading hub. He too fell in love with the city. He planned the ‘Pete’ areas over 300 years ago. British historians and travellers have written about the city ‘s wide roads. Those roads can hardly be termed as roads in the modern context, but the roads of the ‘Pete’ were wider than those in other cities.
The Brits too fell in love with the city. They established a cantonment here and chose to stay back after the triumph over Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore kingdom under whose rule Bangalore was. In fact, Harder Ali (father of Tipu) and Tipu nourished the city well by establishing a rose garden named Lalbagh – one of the most famous and last lung space left in the city.
The climate of the city was salubrious and the soil served as testing grounds for horticulturists. The Brits brought a vast number of plants and flowering trees to Bengaluru from all over the world. Every exotic sapling would find a place in London and Bengaluru. Gulmohars, rain trees, Christmas trees are examples of exotic species that made Bengaluru their home.
The place was a heaven for Botanists like G.H.Krumbeigel. G.H.Krumbeigel hailed from Germany and is the architect of modern-day Lalbagh and dedicated his life to it. He chose to die in the city and didn’t move to Germany post Indian Independence. Needless to say, he too loved the city.
The city had its problems. Water was scarce and the Brits as well as the locals knew it. They dug up lakes all over the city. Till a decade ago, Bengaluru was also known as the Land of A Thousand Lakes. Sankey Tank, Bellandur Tank, Hesaraghatta Lake, T.G.Halli reservoir, Madivala Lake were all part of these efforts. Taking advantage of the changing elevations and terrain in the city, they devised a system of lakes and drains such that a lake’s overflow could easily fill up downstream lakes. They all loved being here and knew what the city needs in order to survive harsh days.
Post Independence too, the rulers have consistently ensured that the city is taken care of. Everyone knew it’s a toddler and needs attention. The residents and the local government bodies worked in tandem and went on a planting spree across the city and brought the ‘Garden City’ tag to it.
The toddler grew up too soon and behaved like a brash teenager. The parents were busy with their own careers and personal interests. The teenager has now turned into a rogue man in his early twenties. There’s a ray of hope. You can see the city trying to fight back. To try to get back to its heydays. But, it needs love and affection. It needs intensive care.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t get the care it deserves or even needs. Nobody cares now. Those who were born here have found a home abroad. Those who made it their home stay within their four walls.
Bangalore Development Authority or BDA thinks development means cutting down trees to construct flyovers we don’t need apart from developing expansive layouts to make some quick bucks.
Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) – the custodian of the city – is hardly worried about anything beyond filling potholes, digging roads and allowing illegal hoardings.
Teethless pollution board and lake development board add to the woes of the city. While the corporates are waking up to the problems they introduced and indeed contributing towards a better city, their efforts need to be stronger. Some corporates have to go beyond maintaing a few lawns and look at planting saplings that can grow into trees.
There are few thousands in a city of a crore people who are actively fighting the lethargy every single day. But that’s not enough, either.
Oh, there’s someone else who just doesn’t love the city. Chief Minister of Karnataka is just not interested in paying the city what’s due. His government is hell bent on building a steel flyover at the cost of close to a thousand trees.
Let’s move on from trees and lakes for a moment. Siddu is not interested even in retaining Bengaluru’s other crowns.
Bengaluru International Film Festival was started by a film society based out of the city. Siddu started co-hosting it in Mysore. Why? Mysore is a city which does well by itself. It knows to survive and stand tall.
Bengaluru, the rock capital of India, hasn’t hosted a single major concert after 2011’s Metallica gig.
When Amazon wanted to set up it’s third warehouse in the city, our government was keen on slapping them with some tax notices. Hyderabad got to host Amazon’s largest warehouse in India.
The latest hit Bengaluru has taken is that the city will lose its rights over Aero India – India’s premier defence air show. The city will lose it to Goa which is the home state of the Defence Minister. Our CM hasn’t evinced any interest in retaining the mega event which Bengaluru has hosted ever since its inception 20 years ago. Forget about retaining, our CM didn’t even attend the event this year!!
So our CM is not interested in Bengaluru’s trees or its lakes, or its architecture, its history, its culture.
Effectively, our government treats the city like an aged prostitute is treated. She’s remembered only when they are bored and get nothing else. Or only when she threatens them to reveal their secrets they shared with her in the bed. She’ll be paid some maintenance fees so that she shuts her mouth for some time. But, they’ll never show gratitude or be thankful to her for bearing with them all these years.