Monday, December 15, 2008

Bangalore Roads & Transport

A checklist for decongesting our roads

For a city like Bengaluru with a very high literacy rate, it should not be a problem to bring in some order and civic sense into our roads, says a concerned citizen.
By Ramamurthy M S

Is it difficult for citizens who are so articulate, so cultured and so well informed on conditions abroad to help evolve a traffic flow system and ensure the woes of commuters? The solution could be planned in several layers.
Top on the list is synchoronised signal lights, adjusted to a moderate speed level. Moderate, because all kinds of vehicles ply on our roads and some of them may not touch the speed limit of 40 kilometers per hour.
Heavy vehicles, cargo laden trucks and the like must be barred entry in arterial roads. If this is not possible, they must be allowed to ply only during early morning or late night hours. Also, our city was not meant to be a megacity. So these vehicles could be conveniently stopped at the outskirts and only those carrying a lesser load may be allowed.
We shall not be cruel to the ones who ply their trade with muscle power. But the question is, whether our compassion should extend that far, allowing a bullock cart to block free flow on busy thoroughfares in the name of humanism?
Already some agencies are at work alerting citizens and commuters on traffic bottlenecks. Is it difficult to rope in a 24-hour news channel to assist this effort? All that needs to be done is to market the concept as a carbon credit proposition. Imagine how much fuel could be saved if diversions are suggested and updates are provided on road blocks as and when they occur?
It is disgusting to hear and see incidents of ambulances held up in traffic jams. The very purpose is defeated. A concerted effort is the need of the hour, and for the ones who cannot use public transport, a pooling system may be set up with the help of voluntary agencies. This could also be extended to regular office-goers, with regular timings.⊕
Ramamurthy M S
04 Dec 2008

Ramamurthy M S is a journalist and columnist and occasional blogger.
Citizen Matters encourages citizen reporting. For more, see
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Bangalore People

Traffic flows smoothly out here. Pics : Sharath Bhat Meet Srinivasalu Naidu - a self-appointed traffic regulator who stations himself at a narrow by-lane off Millers Road in Benson Town - a little before the railway overbridge near Coles Park.If you come in from the Cantonment Station and go past Nandidurga Road, you'll find this narrow by-lane that takes you to Benson Road or Pottery Road. With two-way traffic, this stretch can get tricky - and that's where Srinivasulu comes in. He regulates a steady stream of cars and bikes, with a practiced hand and business-like authority. Without someone out here, you can have traffic getting in from both sides, at the same time. Eventually clogging the road and leading to heated arguments.

Srinivasulu looks like he's in his mid sixties, but he's not sure how old he really is. Says he retired from the Railways a long time ago. He is at this spot from around ten in the morning to a little after ten at night; I saw a little bag nearby with his lunch and a water bottle.Does he make a living from this? Yes. The regulars who use this stretch of road actually stop by and hand over fivers or tenners. Not a great deal of money at the end of the day, but enough to make ends meet, he says. Isn't it tiring to be on your feet for close to 12 hours? He gets five-minute breaks at around three in the afternoon, when the traffic is lean - but that still makes it at least eight hours of being on-your-feet and moving your hands vigorously. Srinivasulu tried sharing the load with a friend, doing shifts that could have definitely eased the strain. But then, his friend would invariably come drunk in the morning which threatened to do more harm than good. So back he was, doing the job single-handed.He also says the people in the neighborhood are kind and often give him something to snack as well. But the bad news now is a potentially serious back problem that could number his days at this spot.

I'll do this as long as I can stand on my own two feet, he says. And that doesn't sound too good. I only hope people in the neighborhood can pool some money together and do what it takes to keep this brave soul going. If his back problem doesn't come in the way, Srinivasulu could ease traffic out here, for another ten years.

Happenings In Bangalore & Surroundings

Job fair to be held in Hub
BANGALORE: The State Government is organising a job fair in Hubli on November 16 for candidates from Industrial Training Institutes.
      Minister for Labour B.N. Bache Gowda told presspersons here on Thursday that the Government would sign a memorandum of understanding with the Rajiv Gandhi Housing Corporation, the Karnataka State Police Housing Corporation and Larsen & Toubro for training and employing 30,000 skilled youth.
      Job fairs would be held in Gulbarga, Mysore, Mangalore and Shimoga in the coming months

Real Estate Severely Hit in Bangalore

        Real estate developement in Bangalore and some of the other important cities of the State such as Mangalore, Mysore and Hubli-Dharwad has been severely hit with hardly any buyers for apartments. 
        The global meltdown is said to be having a disastrous effect on real estate business in Bangalore, one of the fastest growing cities. Housing here has now entered the buyer’s market, in contrast to what prevailed during the boom period when people desirous of shelter were at the mercy of sellers. Apartment prices, particularly on the outskirts of Bangalore, have taken a major beating given the fact that discounts, freebies and even a special interest rates for housing loans (with a certain per cent of the interest paid by the seller) are not bringing in customers. 
        Sources in the housing sector told The Hindu that “indications showed that the people now feel that real estate prices have touched realistic levels, given the response to advertisements for apartments over the past fortnight”. It is another matter that the discounts being offered on the outskirts of the city, ranging between 15 to 35 per cent, based on the location of the property and the amenities provided therein, have not produced the desired responses. People are now in a “wait and watch” mode with the hope that the real estate market takes a further dip and they can step in at that time.
        There are nearly 10 major and about 100 small apartment builders in Bangalore, with very few of them extending their operations to tier-two cities. Apartments are in demand only in Bangalore as independent houses are not very expensive in tier-two cities. Most builders are facing a crisis with hardly any buyers for apartments. This has had a cascading effect on material suppliers to the building sector, with builders unable to clear their dues. Some of them have gone back to the old system of bartering their flats to settle dues of suppliers.
        The apartment price band about a year ago was between Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 12,000 a sq.ft. The maximum hit is in the luxury segment — between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 12,000 — although apartment builders in the core areas of the city such as Sadashivanagar , Malleshwaram, Cantonment areas, Koramangala and Indiranagar are still holding on to their price tags. The supply here is less than the demand and consequently builders have been dictating prices, more so, with the land values being very high in these pockets. However, apartments on the outskirts of the city — Hosur Road and all areas adjoining Electronics City, Sarjapur Road, Whitefield , Marathahalli, Yelahanka, Hebbal and Kengeri have been affected with the supply being higher than the demand. 
        While flats in the core areas of the city are purchased for immediate occupation, those on the outskirts are normally termed as speculative investments