patrol beat

Can’t Get Worse Than This - by Sunitha Rao R, TNN

To paraphrase Leo Tolstoy’s famous first line from Anna Karanina in the context of civic amenities in Bangalore, “Good wards are all alike; every bad ward is bad in its own way.”

The worst off wards of the city are essentially those that fell under the 112 villages that have now been appended to the Bangalore city. Most have no access to Cauvery water and have terrible roads if at all. A few others are unsafe with rampant goondaism being a major problem. Parks and playgrounds are strictly on paper in a few others.

But a striking feature of these wards is that many of the city’s gated communities including the posh `Adarsh Palm Meadows’ fall under the worst performing wards of Bangalore. A lot of apartment complexes in these areas are also home to large tech communities. According to the corporators of Begur, Gottigere and Singsandra wards, though their areas lack basic civic amenities, a lot of real estate activities are indeed taking place. For example, in ward number 191, Singasadra, about 15 to 20% of the area is covered by apartments under construction and gated communities. These literally stick out like oases in the squalor that otherwise surrounds these wards.
People living here, naturally, are very unhappy about the state of affair.

Safety missing here!
Ask Kersi Wadia, who lives in Paradise Nest -- a gated community with 25 homes -- to describe his Dodda Nekkundi ward. “Unsafe, rampant goondaism, stray dog menace, no park, no play ground,” the negatives reel of quickly from the member of the Paradise Nest Owners’ Association. As per Bangalore Patrol survey, the ward secured 188th rank and has pathetic scores for mobility, water, sanitation and environment.

“Law and order is a huge problem here. It is just not safe for women to step out of the house during evenings. The MLA of Mahadevapura constituency, Aravind Limbavali, had visited the ward a year ago and we are yet to see the corporator,” said Wadia.

According to him, the gated community receives Cauvery water but not other parts of the ward, which clearly underlines the discrimination of civic agencies even in providing the limited services. “Inside the gated community, we have parks and playgrounds but the ward per se lacks such open spaces. Garbage collection is taking place but no proper segregation,” he adds.

K Rajeev Palan, chose to live in the outskirts of the city but regrets the decision now as he to travel endlessly to get into the city from his Concord Home at Singasandra ward. “What if we are a gated community? We must have basic amenities outside our house also. I am living here since 1973 and not a drop of Cauvery water has flowed towards us so far. But for a change, there are certain good things happening. Garbage collection is punctual here,” says Palan. According to him, the police department has forgotten this ward where lot of techies live in apartments and with their erratic work hours have cabs moving around in the vicinity even in the wee hours. “Police patrolling is a must,” he says. Singasandra which is close to IT hub, Electronics City, has scored 190th rank as per the survey.

R K Misra, who won the Times of India’s Lead India Campaign and is an urban expert, lives in Palm Meadows, the best known gated community in the city. A resident of Hagadur which has secured the 192th place among the 198 wards, Mishra observes it has been a revenue spinner for BBMP, but neglected in terms of basic facilities. “We had conducted a tax mela for the residents here in coordination with BBMP. In fact Mahadevapura constituency has exceeded the expectations in terms of property tax collection form this ward. But the ward suffers with no basic infrastructure. BBMP’s paurakarmikas do not visit us everyday. Door to door garbage collection is yet to be a reality. We are in talks with BBMP to start a segregation site. There is no underground drainage or BWSSB water supply either,” said Misra.

The residents of these worst wards were keener to know where they stand in the survey findings than other city residents. “I compliment the Times of India for this initiative . However, I maintain that details of the measurement and the place in the sector where they were taken need to be discussed with BBMP, RWAs and Corporators to bring in a fair assessment of the state of affairs,” felt Brigadier Murthy (retd), who represents HSR Layout Residents Welfare Association.

Bad, but Green!
Two of the twenty worst wards are as bad as any other at the bottom expect on their environmental scores. Wards such as Devasandra and Jnanabharathi ward rank 49 on the environment score, the same as Radhakrishna Temple ward that houses areas like Sahakara Nagar & Dollars colony. Bangalore University’s sprawling green campus of 1100 acres falls under Jnanabharathi ward thus pushing up the environment score of the ward.

Close to industrial hub, commute easy
Though the wards have hopeless scores on all civic amenities, when it comes to mobility, three of the worst wards have good connectivity to the city, as they are located close to industrial hubs of Bangalore. Begur located close to Electronics City, scores 65th rank in mobility though overall it is the second worst ward in Bangalore. Similarly, Vartur which houses a large number of labourers who commute to Bangalore daily on work, scores 97th rank in mobility while its overall rank is 183. Ditto with Ullalu which is located at the fag end of Yashwanthpura, but close to Peenya Industrial area as it scores 67th rank in mobility and while being at the bottom overall with a rank of 178.

Quote hangers:

“My ward is just 7-kms away from Bhannerghatta National Park and there is scope for improvement in terms of tourism. There are lots of apartment complexes coming up here, but in terms of development, BBMP has not made any improvement so far. The budget allotted of Rs 4 crore including Rs one crore in special grants is only on paper still. ”
- S K Pushpa, corporator, Gottigere

“All basic amenities score zero in my ward. There is no proper road, no water, and no drainage facilities. These are all the newly added wards and it is not fair on part of the survey to compare a posh ward like Jayanagar to an up-coming ward like Singasadra. The survey is a testimonial to show how the civic amenities have been a mirage in my ward. There is need for more funds to take up all the requisite works.”
-Kavitha Raj, corporator, Singasadra ward

“BBMP must make special budget allocations for these wards as they completely lack civic amenities. Some of these wards, one of which is Hagadur, were under village panchayath earlier and not even under CMC. It’s a challenge to improvise a locality that was earlier a village. For the first time, it has become a part of Bangalore and that’s why the lower ranking. But the mobility has improved with the coming of Kundanahalli to White filed main road.”
- R K Misra, urban expert & resident of Palm Meadows gated community in Hagaduru ward