Publication: Times Of India Bangalore; Date: Dec 1, 2008; Section: Times City; Page: 5
OLD problems, NEW solutions
Rebuilding Old Bangalore does not seem viable in the short to medium term. But there are other things government bodies and traders can do to bring order, find Sujit John & Mini Joseph Tejaswi, in the concluding part of our series on the area
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Poor parking facilities and narrow, congested roads are easily the biggest problems of Old Bangalore. Roads are made narrower by two-wheelers parked along them. So a barely 20-ft-wide road becomes a 10-ft road where both vehicles move and pedestrians walk. On Avenue Road, parking is not allowed, but you still see four-wheelers parked illegally.
Venu P R, the third-generation owner of Jayalakshmi & Co that sells antique jewellery, says he gets the cream of customers, including NRIs. “But the lack of parking has created a lot of problems. A woman used to come in a Benz to buy from us. One day an auto scraped against her car, after which her
husband told her not to come to this area even if she gets a saving of Rs 1 lakh,” he says. Many customers now tell him to come to their homes with his wares, and he is forced to oblige.
Ashok Kumar of Archana Book House, whose father started the store in 1979, says ever since parking was banned on Avenue Road about four years ago, his business has fallen some 50%. “I’m losing business to markets in places like Jayanagar and Malleswaram,” he says.
T N Natesan of P Thandava Mudaliar & Sons, a wholesale cloth merchant, also says he is losing business because of parking issues. “Parking of four-wheelers is not possible anywhere,” he says.
Everybody we spoke to recommended the creation of multi-storey parking facilities on some BBMP plots in the area, to enable more four-wheelers to park and get two-wheelers off the roads. The Bundimoot plot is on everybody’s mind. At present, lorries are parked there illegally, and shops have occupied space, again illegally.
Suresh Manandi, president of Bangalore Wholesale Cloth Merchants’ Association, says if the BBMP were to maintain the City Market parking facility well, that would help. “Currently, 50% of that cannot be used because it’s in a pathetic condition,” he says.
G V Sreedhar, secretary of The Jewellers’ Association, requested the authorities one year ago for mini-buses from City Market through Avenue Road, State Bank of Mysore, KG Road and back to City Market, “so that people could park in Market or Mysore Bank and come here”. This, he says, will reduce traffic congestion and pollution.
Hawkers also need to be removed from pavements, and all the shops that extend their display of goods on to the footpaths need to be stopped from doing so — “so that pedestrians can walk on pavements rather than on the roads”, says B K Goyal, secretary of the Federation of Trade Associations of Central Bangalore.
MESS ON NAGARATHPET ROAD
Nagarathpet Road represents all that’s wrong with old Bangalore. The BBMP started work to concretize this stretch almost two months ago. Today, you would dread to walk on it. It’s been dug up by several agencies.
Mohan Rao of Ravishankar Traders, a hosiery dealer, says he is barely doing 25% of normal sales. “Every day, 4-5 people, including pregnant women, fall into potholes,” he says.
Ashok Kumar Jain of Woollen Textiles, who has been in the business for 40 years, is particularly frustrated. He sells blankets and other winter products. “This is peak season for us, and nobody is willing to come here,” he says. H G Parekh, a Congress leader who has stayed in this area for the past 60 years, notes that the BBMP commissioner’s office is just a two-minute walk from here. “But he does not notice the problem,” he says.
When TOI asked for an explanation from BBMP contractor Narayana Gowda, he said, “Bescom and telecom companies are laying cables. BWSSB is replacing a pipe. These bodies have promised us work will be over soon. The road will be ready by December-end.’’
Almost every trader also complains about the severe shortage of toilets, and the poor condition of those that exist. B K Goyal notes that shortage of toilets is a huge problem for customers, especially women, and says most associations in the area are willing to spend money to construct and maintain toilets. “The BBMP should allow that,” he says.
The decades-old drainage system also needs to be completely changed. Sajjan Raj Mehta, president of the Karnataka Hosiery & Garments Association, says most drains in the Chickpet-Mamulpet area are choked, causing flooding of roads during rain.
WHAT WE CAN DO
Build multi-storey parking spaces, especially in Bundimoot, and then ban even two-wheelers from parking on all roads. Introduce a minibus system within the area. Clear hawkers from pavements, rehabilitate them Ban shops from extending their wares on to pavements Take strict action against those who violate building by-laws. Demolish structures that have violated excessively Overhaul the drainage system Concrete all pavements Allow trader associations to build and maintain toilets
B K Goyal
G V Sreedhar
This massive pile of garbage at the Nagarathpet Road-Avenue Road junction has been lying there for a month
Shops extend their wares on to pavements. Hawkers too merrily use footpaths to sell eatables, books, flowers