patrol beat

Why Posh Is Not Really Posh - by Aarthi R/TNN

The biggest surprise that the Bangalore Patrol survey threw up was in the ranking of the best wards to live in, in Bangalore. Commonly accepted wisdom has the central business district — MG Road, St Marks Road, Lavelle Road — Indiranagar, Koramangala, Sadashivanagar, Raj Mahal Vilas, Jayanagar, Malleswaram as the posh areas of the city. Related to this is the assumption that poshness denotes good civic amenities. Otherwise, why would the rich and famous want to live there?

But a ground level survey done by Bangalore Patrol has demolished many of the myths. While these areas are indeed dotted with swanky commercial establishments and beautiful villas and bungalows, the civic life of the residents isn’t much to write home about. It can also be that while parts of these areas are indeed very upscale with the best of facilities, other areas adjacent to them might not have the same delivery of services. It isn’t atypical to see a slum or revenue area in close proximity to a posh area. When both areas are combined the scores come down.

Bangalore Patrol, which assess the civic services in a ward, an initiative of the Times of India’s that’s been conceptualised and managed by Janaagraha, has found that overall many wards in South and East Bangalore have fared well, particularly those in core city areas, featuring in the Top 25 in most categories. Ganesh Mandir ward at rank 1 and J P nagar at No 3 are some pleasant surprises. Ironically, the Begur ward that ranks among the worst in Bangalore is also from South.

It’s hard to imagine that Jayanagar — the pride of South Bangalore —has a ranking as poor as 86, just one rank above Kushalnagar! ‘Middle-class’ Malleshwaram checks in at 59. A real shock is seeing Koramangala — where most of the city tech millionaires and billionaires live — at 92, which makes it worse than the congested Cottonpet. Koramangala is good only for its roads with the poor water supply, traffic congestion, the state of its parks and playgrounds are area of concern. Even the one-time royal Rajmahal Guttahalli now ranks 31 while Kamakshipalya is among top 10.

The area-wise field surveys reveal a lot more. Indiranagar & Defence colony are still coveted addresses in town, but today many of its residents suffer from irregular garbage collection. In fact the 7th main road here is now a perennial parking spot for garbage vehicles. Mobility is another issue. The list of observations by our field surveyors include bad roads and bus shelters with no proper shelter above! Even the broad footpaths along the 100 feet road have now been taken up for parking while pedestrians walk on the busy road. The Metro work on CMH road has also changed the bus services here over the last few years.

As for Sadashivanagar and Rajmahal Guttahalli areas, the roads are good and sewage line network decent. But, there’s nothing to be happy about the footpath conditions here. When they exist they have been completely taken over as extensions for the VIP homes. The proximity to the K G tower has ensured good water supply but civic crisis in some pockets like Devasandra and adjoining slum areas has these wards fall away from the Top 25.

Ranked Top 5, Vasanthnagar is still posh when it comes to location and water. The high ground division here has ensured it has very good water supply.Maybe the fact that many ministers live in this neighbourhood has something to do with it. However, mobility’s a concern. There’s also a lot of congestion on the road.
Going by ranks, another upcoming suburb, BTM layout (rank 110), is worse than K R Market. The roads here are good, so is water condition. But the traffic congestion makes it unbearable to live. Marathahalli, is another example.
It houses many leading establishments, but even an affluent retired colonel who’s been living here for long in a posh house, is helpless and harassed by the unhygienic conditions at the three empty plots around his house. Even knowing top bureaucrats has helped him little.

Sanjaynagar is good, the CM’s residence at RMV II stage makes it posh. But the traffic and garbage woes in some pockets make matters worse for the common man. Long-time residents at an apartment complex at D’Souza road in Richmond town—that’s part of East Bangalore — have seen the water quality change at least two times in less than a year! The HAL airport area, that once was the crucial lifeline to the city due to the airport, is now at rank 153. This is mainly due to the conditions of surrounding areas.

So, if the posh areas aren’t really good in the quality of civic services they enjoy, why are they in demand? One reason could be is that the residents of these areas to a large extent by-pass the poor quality of services provided to them and expend their own resources to get higher quality of life.

For example, when the transport services, bus connectivity is poor, they increasingly might rely on their own vehicles to stay mobile. If the power outages are a common recurrence, they might invest in generators and invertors. When the water connection is poor, they might just drill a bore well in their homes to get water.

The cost of doing these things is high, but the residents of the posher areas might feel it is worth the effort and critically, are in a position to spend to avail themselves of these more expensive alternatives.

Also having poorer areas within a neighbourhood might actually add to the quality of life of the richer people living in it as they have easy access to a pool of maid servants, malis, drivers, cooks and ayahs from this catchment area.

Another factor that emerges from this is that while the posher neighbourhoods bypass the poor quality of civic services by making alternate arrangements, they also tend to bypass the civic bodies and corporators.

They,perhaps, then engage less with them leading in turn to the local bodies paying less attention to them. In contrast sold middle class areas, where people need good quality of civic services —good garbage collection, good bus service —will engage better with their corproators and municipal officers to ensure that these services are delivered to them in a consistent manner and of a good
quality.