Sunday was a special day for Bangalore Mirror and the residents of Prestige Shantiniketan. It was the first interaction between a newspaper, readers and residents, the local corporator and the law and order representative. BM was there to see what could be done to resolve the many problems that plague Whitefield and the residents wanted to convey their concerns to the corporator, AC Hariprasad. Over three hours, there were debates, questions, suggestions and possible solutions for Bengaluru in general and Whitefield in particular. At the end of the session, corporator Hariprasad promised to resolve each problem one by one by organising an interaction with all the stakeholders. These were some of the issues that were raised:
ZERO COORDINATION AMONG VARIOUS GOVERNMENT AND CIVIC AGENCIES
Residents wondered why there was little or no coordination among various government departments. For instance, laying footpaths. After persistent campaigns and protests, footpaths were laid in Whitefield sometime back, a huge relief for pedestrians. But residents’ joy was short-lived as Metro barricades were put up at the same spots. To make it worse, underground cable lines were laid all along the KR Puram-Hoodi Road — by digging up footpaths again. “Why can’t various government agencies coordinate so that huge amount of money can be saved? If the BBMP knew about the ensuing Metro work, why did it go ahead and lay footpaths? Now that pavements are dug up again, there is no guarantee that it will be repaired and new footpaths laid,” asked a resident, fuming.
CONTAINER TRUCKS, HUGE MENACE
Whitefield is notorious for traffic jams and one of the main reasons for the gridlock is the constant movement of container trucks. Residents asked why traffic police were not taking any steps to curb the movement of these trucks, that too during peak-hours. The presence of IT firms and their transportation fleet also add to the traffic volume. Most residents were in favour of a blanket ban on container trucks.
ILLEGAL HOARDINGS HAVE THEM IN A FLEX
A stroll through Whitefield, it’s on your face: the menace of flex banners. Arguably, Whitefield has the most number of illegal hoardings in Bengaluru. Residents said such hoardings just don’t spoil the landscape, but in many cases, it also affects the traffic or pedestrian flow. Residents said BBMP had been turning a blind eye to flex banners despite the fact Whitefield had many initiatives to get rid of illegal banners. They allege even the elected representatives wash their hands of the issue. P Mohapatra said, “I have no clue why so many flex banners are dotting the area. People erect flexes at the drop of a hat — from birthdays to condolence meetings to weddings. Politicians also join the party when they should be leading campaigns against the menace. If we question them, they have a lame excuse ready: we are not putting them up, but our followers.”
POORLY LIT STREETS
At a time the rest of the city is busy installing LED lights, Whitefield is plunging into darkness, with poorly lit streetlights or no lights at all. Residents wanted to know why BBMP had not been maintaining streetlights despite repeated complaints. In some cases, lamps are installed, but they won’t work properly. They say they often get messages that complaints have been resolved, but it is only online, not on the field. BBMP, they allege, closed down complaints without even rectifying the issue.
PARKING WOES/LANE INDISCIPLINE
Traffic is such a huge problem that even Apps or Google Maps fail to predict the estimated time of arrival. Said a resident, “We religiously follow one way, but suddenly we see someone jumping the signal or coming in opposite direction. This will not only discourage people who follow rules, but also ends up in traffic mess.” Another resident wanted no-parking rule be imposed all along the ITPB road. “Cabs and other vehicles are always parked on the road, eating up half of the space. Even buses try to stop in the middle of the road. We suggested shifting of all the bus-stops near junctions and traffic signals. Lane should be marked properly. If no lanes are marked, there is no point in asking people to follow lanes,” asks a resident.
Adding to the cup of woes, Metro Phase-2 is all set to enter Whitefield. Ideally, Whitefielders should have been cheering the entry of Metro, but sadly they are not: because they fear Metro construction will take a toll on their already harried lives. “Traffic is already in a mess, but with Metro coming, we can’t even imagine how it will be,” says a resident. Some residents say the number of suburban trains should be increased. Says Harish Menon, “For long, we have been demanding that suburban trains be connected to Whitefield from Yeshwanthpur, Yelahanka and Kengeri side. If the frequency of trains is increased, then it will give one more option for the people to reach CBD earlier. This will also reduce traffic congestion.”
At Bangalore Mirror, we always put Bengaluru first. On Sunday, we met residents of Prestige Shantiniketan and heard them out. We will now work with the residents and ensure that their problems are resolved. We will cajole authorities; remind them of their duty; work with them to remove any bottlenecks — we will do whatever it takes. We hear you, Prestige Shantiniketan.