Swaroop C H

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Urban Development

31 Jan 2008

Around the recent gastroenteritis scare in Bangalore, NDTV was running a poll:

NDTV Poll on Bangalore

Then, there was this whole one hour dedicated to hearing viewpoints from Veerappa Moily, Swathi Ramanathan and the general public regarding Bangalore's infrastructure.

Okay, okay, I know most of you by now are saying "Oh, come on, don't you have anything else to talk about? You're so boring". Maybe I am, but when I shift most of my "outside" chores to the middle of the day just to avoid traffic, and hate going out on Sundays because of long queues for everything, it affects me and I'd like to know if the situation can improve or not.

I liked how Swathi Ramanathan explained that the business people have come together to pitch in their part. The way they've analyzed the 15 critical junctions leading to the Bangalore International Airport which should have good roads otherwise traffic will bottle up here and will throw us into further crisis, err okay, I'll stop here.

It reminded me of the Singapore 1:1 Island Exhibition I visited on Day 12 (Jan 02, 2008) of my Singapore trip.

(To be honest, I was a little hesitant to write about this topic, even though this is my space, my blog. The last time I wrote something, people wrote in to say that I'm not Indian enough because I talked negative about our current situation and asked me to go 'home' to Singapore or USA!)

Singapore Day 12 013 Singapore Day 12 031 Singapore Day 12 022 Singapore Day 12 047 Singapore Day 12 193 Singapore Day 12 101 Singapore Day 12 133 Singapore Day 12 159

You can see many more photos in my Day 12 photo album.

I absolutely loved their Skyline newsletters where they discuss the upcoming developments. Do check out their last Nov/Dec 2007 edition. I can almost guarantee you that you'll come away inspired, especially the Design Wonders section.

It's not so much about Singapore that amazed me, it's the fact that they have such a vision about the place they want to live in, and the effort that goes into planning of such things, the importance given to design and architecture, and finally ensuring proper execution.

And it is a seemingly open process. Visiting the Urban Redevelopment Authority website shows the first sidebar on the left which says "I need info on Master Plan / Land Use Planning / etc."

Maybe that's what we need for cities like Bangalore?

It would help if things were more transparent, instead of the government hiding facts like a part of Lalbagh that would be razed for the metro. Or something like what Stefan Magdalinski did with TheyWorkForYou?

CitizenMatters.in seems to be a step in the right direction, but at the end of the day, it's just competing with the hyperbolic news channels. I think a more useful idea would be a website with a categorical depth of works happening in the different parts of the cities, the government offices involved, what is being done, and so on. But the website is still useful, for example, via an article on ward works came to know about this:

Coalition Against Corruption Guru Ravindranath Tel: 65734444

If you have noticed any governmental apathy in your area, CAC and Guru Ravindranath will guide you in fixing things.

Question is: Would I call Mr. Guru if I do come across something? I have this eternal fear regarding these issues about getting into something that I'll regret.

Comments

Anush Shetty says:

I have been very actively involved in the protest against the Tree Cutting exercise in bangalore citing Metro/Intl Airport as the reason. I have attended so many meetings in the BBMP Office and everytime I am disappointed. They hardly listen to you. Though the law says that tree cutting initiatives should involve public too, they have never followed the rule book. Now what we have is tree-less Bellary Road, Nrupathunga Road, St Johns Road and many more to come..

As you rightly pointed out that sites like CitizenMatters are just competing with the hyperbolic news channels at the end of the day, I think we need some public, voluntary and participative initiative. No private media can fill in that requirement.

Swaroop says:

@Anush: Sad to hear the state of affairs.

John Samuel says:

I do agree with you. There must be transparency in all the matters. Just like Singapore's Urban Development site which has details about their master plan, we too must have a vision and transparency of plans for our cities.Whatever we plan, it must be put before the public. Let all things be transparent, from the initial stage of planning to completion of a project. In fact I think IT can play a big role. Because everybody hates to stand in long queues and only quite a less people would approach the government offices to know about the projects being undertaken in their local areas. But if the information is available in a website, the public participation can be increased (which in turn will bring transparency)

Ravi says:

Hi Swaroop,
Came here through a google alert that I subscribe to. Nice blog...very well expressed points of view.
Ravi

Pramod Biligiri says:

Touche! Transparency and accountability are totally lacking in what happens to Bangalore. I don't mind official inaction as long as I know what's going on in the first place.

CitizenMatters.in looks good!! I had high hopes from Janaagraha but of late they have been pretty low key.

Also, don't shy away from this topic. Blog about it every time it strikes you. Any worthwhile idea bears repeating :)

Meera says:

Swaroop, very interesting point on the need for information on various civic/public works happening in the city.

But this is PUBLIC information and should be publicly available. Unfortunately in India, very often the only way to get public info is through the media or by using RTI.

We are not competing with hyperbolic news channels. We have started the initiative with the premise that good and engaging local journalism can foster informed city-communities and better dialogue and discourse. As part of this, we will make available any "public" information that we are able to gather!


Meera, Citizen Matters

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