Today, the Bangalore newspapers say that the government is fine with the felling of 90 more trees to make way for an extended road. Tomorrow, another government will say that it is fine to kill lakes because more population needs to be resettled in the urban areas. This mindless growth now translates itself to the tri-furcation of the municipal corporation that says that Bangalore is now unmanageable by one governing body. Who cares?
Bangalore has been reclaiming land from its lakes. One fine day, some officials try to save lakes from encroachment, mow down buildings they themselves gave permissions to, and then stop. This is all a magic of a four letter word, that also promises to be the best investment in the sea of urbanization – Land. It has seen wars. It has seen power struggles. It has seen politicians turn into puppets. It has led farmers turn into real estate agents. It has led to corruption of unthinkable magnitude. It has also led governments lay siege of opportunity without planning. So if there is land leading to an airport, or a lake, or a place of interest, all kinds of residential and commercial properties are allowed to develop there. That water, roads, sanction plans may still not be in place, no one will care. It’s about money.
Welcome to the world of high and higher rises. Those concrete structures that rise up ever so fast, without a care for the environment. Where trees are laid to rest so more concrete and tar can pave the way for more machines to ply. This mad rush of urbanization forgets the fact that when you take nature to task, there is a mockery waiting to happen.
In India, the so called land of lakes and green city now only has a handful of lakes and green cover that’s diminishing faster than most pates. Why is it that this immediate rush to make money is so important than preserving the beauty of the environment that allows us to thrive. It’s not just the sparrow, its us too. Just as pure air becomes scarce and pollution becomes an acceptable issue, we are slowly drowning ourselves to depths of unplanned urbanization.
Today, temperatures have gone up, we buy water when the government is not supplying it. Drains overflow when it pours with the rainwater having no way to find its way back to the lakes. Skyscrapers are being allowed to mushroom all over the city without most fire brigades having the wherewithal to reach upper floors in case of emergency. Then there is a public transport system that takes decades to connect, leading to shifting the traffic issues to another location, and raising the ratio of people per square feet in one of the most populous countries of the world.
But hey, no one is cribbing, or at least, the majority don’t. Because in Bangalore, we have learnt to adjust. We have learnt to believe that things will get better. We believe in destiny. We believe in the oracle solving it for us. We believe that it is someone else’s problem. For us, having the power to flaunt is bigger than overcoming the biggest challenge that we currently have – garbage! Well, things will settle down soon, and some good people will come forward to make the change, so why bother?
What is it that takes integrity and care take a backseat and personal rise become a high-rise is not just Bangalore’s bane, but the issue which a whole society is grappling with. It’s called uncertainty and its seen this city make homes costlier by at least 6 times of what it used to be. The air-conditioned weather now needs some cool breeze for itself, and a breather as it wipes its brow, thanks to the concrete and exhaust from millions of vehicles every moment.
The question is, who has the time to think for the city that has been a giver of opportunity to millions? Pass the buck. And the muck.