Meltdown | Cover Story | Down To Earth magazine:
Till a couple of decades ago Bangalore was a sleepy city — running to the rhythm of old trading networks and retired people taking their evening constitutionals. All that changed when the city became the Silicon Valley of India. Invaded by technological giants and the ubiquitous techies, the urban culture changed — became hip and happening.
Unfortunately, the city’s infrastructure did not change fast enough. Certainly it did not change fast enough for those who were being displaced by the information revolution. Bangalore city started devouring surrounding villages, stretching basic facilities like sanitation and water supply. Mobility became the focus of skewed infrastructure development. Money is now going into flyovers, new mass transit systems and road widening, without much thought about the appropriateness of these ventures. The proposed international airport, the subject of some controversy, threatens to take over a massive amount of land without adequate recompense for the displaced.
The bigger problem is that as the city has grown, it has eaten up its natural drainage channels and the source of its water requirements. A wide network of lakes in Bangalore was important sources of water supply — they are now either repositories for sewage or have been developed for real estate projects. The same goes for wetlands and open areas outside Bangalore. It should hardly cause surprise that Bangalore experienced major floods last year — ironically they derailed transport sector projects, which will no doubt, over the years, further imperil the city. This paradigm of urban development is, however, not new. It holds true for all the major cities in the country. (snip)