Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bangalore and an election

I moved from Bombay to Bangalore nearly 8 eight years back. The contrast between the two cities could not be greater. And since nobody warned me, I used the same skills I had in Bombay. 

This was in 2000 or so. To try to get a bus to go to MG Road or Iskcon was one thing. If you succeeded in getting there, then coming back at any point after 6.30 was a challenge. Getting a rickshaw with or without a "one and a half" and a city tour was equally painful. Bangalore barely had a public transport infrastructure. To reach the outskirts of the city (where most companies are located) one had to take a combination of bus, rickshaw and rickety private buses and after that, you would reach in about thrice the time it took by company vehicle. Bangalore had all of one flyover which was built at the cost of an entire city and is now nearly in complete disuse (the famous one with a signal in the middle). There was another flyover built near the city market which also took ages. Then there was the historical Silk Bored flyover. 

After 8 years, the city has barely made progress. There have been roads that have been in a post war condition for many years. There was an 80 feet road which was an 80 feet canal for a while. Now that road has got repaired, but the arterial roads around it, are completely broken up. 
A couple of grade separators have been built. There has been some attempt at getting better at public transport, but the metro is barely chugging along and overall it is not easy to get to work to any of the IT hubs using public transport. Result: Companies run their transport services - which really is a waste of resources. How difficult is to built a subway - either for pedestrians under busy roads or for vehicles? You wont believe how difficult it is here. One particular subway took about a year to build.

In Bombay when the Shiv Sena government came to power, they built a whopping 50 odd flyovers and then some. It was a widely criticised move at that time by the press - and all sorts of allegations including kickbacks were written about. But the city got work done. The construction contracts (with its rewards and penalties system) got most of the flyovers completed before time. Subways were built under the highways and there are long stretches where vehicles can go fast without having people crossing roads. Then, the overburdened suburban railway system that works - Bombay is all set to get a metro rail. That government turned the tables of Bombay elections for ever. 

From 2 rupee zunka bhakar every election manifesto is more and more about more flyovers, metro railways, water and infrastructure. The city feels taken care of - with each progressing visit. That is something visitors to Bangalore will not get a feel of. I hope that this election changes the face of Bangalore for ever...


vijay said...

Hi, Came through DP, i had the same thoughts stayed, came here from mumbai three years back. Coming to the flyovers in mumbai, I was travelling in atrain when i happened to meet Mr. Nitin Gadkari, who was the PWD minister in the then BJP -SS Cabinet who was instrumental in getting this done. The tenders were being placed and you should see the determination in his face to get the work completed and make a mark in mumbai. Now everyone appreciates the same.


Neelakantan said...

If the politicians cared about the city instead of owning petrol pumps and selling land they would do something about it...