Thursday, November 08, 2007

Dying Bangalore

Bangalore is choking itself to death and there’s no help coming.

Though I live in Bangalore I don’t get to go through its infamous traffic. Since my office is close to my home, I can afford to avoid getting onto the main roads. Recently, I got a chance to go through the 'Bangalore traffic' and it was a nightmare.

The experience was horrible. My head ached so much I just had to stop thinking about it and breathe deep. For the first time I felt there is no hope for this city. It upset me the whole day. I saw what was happening to this city. This city is dying and nothing can save it- nobody can save a city which wants to commit suicide so obstinately.

One would think that it is common sense to at least make sure the new buildings are built a little farther away from the roads to allow for expansion. And you don’t see that. Instead, all new constructions of apartments, shopping complexes are coming right onto the roads making sure there is no better future for this city. The major highways that connect the city to places like ITPL are very narrow. And when you see around you realize there is no way one could expand because major buildings have already come up right next to the road. There is one huge shopping complex coming up right on the intersection of two major roads. That intersection already clogs most of the traffic going to Koramangala from Indiranagar. Now, imagine what would happen when this complex opens up. Even the new roads that are coming up in new layouts are narrow. It’s as if we never learn our lessons. And when the government tries to crack its whip on those people who have encroached strips of lands allocated for roads, the residents protest and ensure no action takes place.

Right now, there is an effort to build flyovers and metros. Most of these constructions in Bangalore, for some reason, take unduly long time and are often ill-planned. The roads are all being ripped open now without making any provision to take care of the existing traffic! Since it is not planned for future traffic, by the time they get built, they would be already clogged with ever-increasing traffic. More than 40,000 cars are being added into this city per year. There is nobody thinking about how fast the traffic is increasing in this city. The people of Bangalore keep on encroaching lands and keep expanding their homes onto the roads further choking them. Cars are parked on the roads during peak hours. People waiting for the bus stand right on the road. A sage told them that the bus arrives early if they wait on the road and keep bending to look for it.

Bangalore is a good example of two things that I can characterize whole of India with – myopia and avarice. The combination of these two elements make a deadly potion (more on that later). Myopia, shortsightedness, and Avarice, greed, are the most common trait of all Indians. After Cricket, these two things bind all Indians. You will see both in action in Bangalore resulting in gradual suffocation of this city.

Yesterday, when I was traveling through these terrible roads, I felt like a red blood corpuscle trying to make my way through an artery to the heart of the city. Bangalore is getting really fat and obese from gluttony, and is collecting lot of cholesterol. The cholesterol deposited around due to deposits of dirt, gravel, stones, and the encroachments by greedy people was constricting me from all sides. The heart beat of Bangalore is getting feebler. One of these days, it’s just going to get a heart attack will choke itself to death.

There is nothing one can do to save a city that wants to willingly commit suicide. No amount of foreign investment or no presence of MNCs is going to save it. No amount of TOI (Times of India) articles are going to save it. Nor will my blogs. Far from being a Garden city, this city will become a Garbage city. Far from being a Silicon Valley, this city will be a Death valley.


  1. Sujai, mann ki shanti ke liye kuch yoga ya dhyan karna shuru kar do (you can be an atheist and still do them), varna tumhara blog padhne ka aanand jyada der tak nahin rahega, agar tumhe kuch ho gaya.
    -tumhara shubh-chintak Chirkut

  2. Sujai, I am a long time Bangalorean. I have to say that the living conditions have deteriorated. It's the lack of planning and vision that is responsible for this nightmare. For the last 50 years, the state govt has neglected other parts of the state while bringing most of the industrial and bussiness development in and around Bangalore. Result? City is growing like there are no bounds. It is time to reign in the growth of the city and spread business and industrial development across the state. This will reduce the pressure on the city.

    The urban planning and management bodies such BDA/BMRDA/BBMP/XYZ have failed miserably too. New roads and Metro Rail systems are not enough to save the city. Metro Rail will benefit the contractors and politicians and will fail miserably when it comes to coverage and true reduction of vehicles on the streets.

    New roads without proper mass transportation will be failures. Most of the flyovers have failed too as they merely shift or spread congestion points to other areas. The concept of zoning for residential and commercial activities is violated at will that's why you see areas like Koramangala and Indiranagar which were once mostly residential areas now decaying into commercial chaos.

    The situation is not too different in other cities. From what I hear, even the planned city of Chandigarh is facing issues now.

  3. Happy Diwali, Sujai. Wishing you joy and happiness.

  4. I guess it's Bangalore's turn after Bombay. :D


  5. "I felt like a red blood corpuscle trying to make my way through an artery to the heart of the city. Bangalore is getting really fat and obese from gluttony, and is collecting lot of cholesterol."

    --- I see, you are the lone red blood corpuscle and all other Bangalore residents are particles of fat and cholesterol!

  6. @Cautious Optimist:

    Coming back to India is a big decision for any expatriate. There are enormous problems of counter-cultural shock. Expect your life to be hell for the first year or so, regardless of what city you choose to live in. However, I have seen few desis regretting their decision after they overcome the initial shock that typically lasts from a few month to about a year.

    You may find this article from R.K.Narayan, helpful to put things in perspective. This is slightly old, but nonetheless very enlightening even today:


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