|Bengaluru needed a plan in place in early 1990s when we knew we would reach this stage in urbanisation. How come we woke only now? Pic: Ameen Ahmed|
As 2000 passed, Bengaluru ate away all its sand and much of timber. In our drives around Tumakuru and neighbouring districts we could see the day light looting of the resources- chiefly sand and timber, for the buildings coming up in Bengaluru. Around the same time hundreds of thousands of mature indigenous British-era trees were chopped for Atal Bihari Vajapayee's pet NH Golden Quadrilateral project across the country, Bengaluru being no exception. Many of them ended up in newly set up brick kilns, some of them not far from the highways. The kilns were churning out bricks for a city that was engulfed in a construction frenzy.
|Another British-era roadside tree that was felled for the expansion of National Highway No: 4 near Dobbspet in Nelamangala Taluk, Bengaluru District. Pic: Ameen Ahmed|
Bengaluru needed a plan in place in early 1990s or at least in the mid-1990s when we knew we would reach this stage in urbanisation. How come we woke only now? Are we going to stop every new road expansion project in the city? Should the city's development come to a grinding halt just because we have realised our folly now? This steel bridge is an alarm call but it is not the last. No change in Governments can stop urbanisation. It is irreversible.
Yes. The process of improving public transport and universal access to it can (and should) be fastened. The weaning away from private vehicles to public transport should be gradual and time bound. The civil society can (may be it should) take a lead in it by ensuring vultures out to score political brownies are kept at a distance. Will it happen now when it has not happened in the last 20 - 25 years? Well, we can always try.