Sunday, July 1, 2012

PNLIT's Inputs/ Suggestions to Bangalore's Master Plan 2035

About two months ago, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) sent out a public notice for Revision of Bangalore's Master Plan 2015 inviting citizens to give inputs/ suggestions in writing by July 7, 2012. This is a statutory requirement starting the process to define and guide how Bangalore needs to develop till 2035. In asking for citizen inputs ahead of the process to construct RMP 2035, BDA is seen as being sensitive to the views of citizens. The document that will finally result from this exercise is Revised Master Plan (RMP) 2035
The Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) has been consolidating the suggestions of Bangaloreans, RWAs, NGOs, industry associations, social groups to send to the BDA. PNLIT took this opportunity to list out some of the things on our mind and we have sent inputs/ suggestions to NBA for inclusion in the document that they will submit to BDA. 

PNLITs inputs/ suggestions

The master plan of any city should be developed with public open spaces as the foundation. The current plan for Bangalore needs to be reworked to:
- include the resources of the city (natural and man-made) - including ponds, tanks and lakes, raja kaluves, forested areas, hills, parks, playgrounds. There may be a need for restoration and demolition of existing structures to achieve this. 
- include basic amenities - clean streets, walkable footpaths, pedestrian crossings, sheltered bus stops with good signage, decentralised garbage handling, unclogged storm water drains, well-maintained toilets, etc. 
- be equitable, giving every one (the pedestrian, the cyclist, the motorist, the trucker, the autorickshaw, the child, the teenager, the housewife, the differently abled, the senior citizen, the rich, the poor, etc.) equal access and right to amenities with no bias based on economic status, gender, etc.
- incorporate people and the community as the centre around which the plan develops.  
- redefine land use so that public open spaces are restored.
- focus on mass public transport and traffic-free ways rather than road widening and building flyovers.  

Start with a massive clean up of the city
- Go road to road in a truck and with sufficient workers and equipment. Pick up all the rubble, garbage, fallen branches, debris, storm water drain filth and other unwanted material. Material should be immediately put into the truck and not left by the road. Check up what is wrong - broken footpaths, encroached area, open manholes, etc. Make a note and have it attended to in the next couple of days.
- Appoint a neighbourhood watchdog in each area/ road to ensure that the place remains as such. Appoint a govt official to be incharge of each area. 

Strict guidelines on waste disposal, including household waste, leaf litter, building construction/renovation debris 
- Segregation of household, office and all other waste - mandatory
- Properly monitored regular door to door collection 
- Judiciously placed roadside bins - that are not for household waste, regularly cleared
- Every ward needs an area where the pourkarmikas offload the waste they have collected. This is anyway being done but the waste is left on the roads to spread and be attacked by dogs. This needs to be formalised. Govt needs to identify the area where the waste will be offloaded and make a plan to build a proper covered shed there, protected from rain, dogs, etc.       
- All multi storied apts, office buildings, function halls, etc. should take care of their own waste within the premises. Chutes in mutli-storied apts for waste disposal are a barrier to segregation at source and need to be banned by the building plan sanctioning authorities.   
- Fix rules on how building construction/ renovation debris/ tree branches, etc. from individual houses, construction sites, etc. are to be disposed. They are strictly not to be dumped on the roads.  

Roadside vendors
- It is inevitable that there will be hawkers and roadside vendors in Bangalore city. These vendors block footpaths, occupy road space, throw their rubbish into storm water drains, use banned plastic bags - but we still want them. Many of them set up 'temporary' but permanent tents. A clear plan for roadside vendors needs to be made. Designate specific areas for them and be strict in allowing them only there.
- Have push cart parking bays in certain areas.
- Lay down rules for them - how their waste is to be disposed, etc. 

Roadside vehicle parking
- We often have big shopping complexes on wide roads with no parking allowed either inside the building or on the road. Even the Passport Seva Kendra on Lalbagh Road that has a big compound does not allow vehicles to be parked inside. On many of the main roads, parking on the road needs to be allowed to facilitate optimal use of vehicles and to regulate pedestrian movement.
 - Purchase of new vehicles should not be allowed unless the buyer has a parking space for the vehicle.

Rain water, drinking water problems
- RWH should be implemented for road water that will lead the water into lakes of the neighbourhood or to recharge pits in parks
- Storm water drains should be protected and no one should be allowed to put sewage and garbage into them. This  will prevent flooding during monsoons. 
- Implementation of RWH in new buildings should be clearly incorporated in the building plan. 
- In existing buildings RWH implementation should be strictly monitored.
- Borewells have to be monitored. Underground water is a common resource but indiscriminately being commercially exploited by those who dig borewells.

Fire safety
- Do the hydrants in the city work?
- Enforce fire safety equipment requirements in all buildings
- Roads that do not enable fire access need to be relooked at and open spaces created to enable access. 
Pedestrian traffic and public transport facilities - rather than road widening and flyovers 
- We need a comprehensive plan that incorporates all road users' needs rather than just enable cars to speed through cities. 
- Some clear guidelines, laws need to be established on road widening.  Which roads will be widened, at what point is the road "wide enough"?  What will be the width of the pavements?  Where will there be pedestrian crossings?  How will disabled people go from place to place?  What about a bus-lane? How will non-motorized transport be encouraged?
- Before deciding on flyovers and widening, we need to consider that flyovers and wide roads have not solved traffic problems anywhere.  The only solution is mass transit.  Beijing, Moscow, Bangkok all have invested more money in roads and expressways and flyovers than we can ever imagine.  But they still have clogged roads (just google Moscow or Beijing traffic and see images).  Bombay - flyovers were built on the Western Express Highway to supposedly make traffic move fast.  But go in the evening and average speed falls to 10 kmph (a bit faster than walking and slower than cycling).  - In Bangalore itself, we have spent crores of rupees on widening roads and building flyovers. Before any road widening and flyovers are in the plan, data needs to suggest that we have improved the situation for more than 2 years.
Richmond Road has been widened by converting into a 4 lane one-way, but it is still clogged.  Same for Residency Road and same for Seshadri Road and JC Road.  BBMP needs to prove that road widening has improved average speeds through that stretch and over a sustained period of time and during peak hours.  
- If you take any road (JC Road being a prime example), out of the 4 lanes only 2 - 2.5 are usable.  The left most lane will have puddles, slush, loose mud and illegally parked vehicles; not many two wheelers will use it.  The right most has similar problems.  This is because the drainage system allows sediment to accumulate.  If the full road was made usable, then that itself would be one stage of widening. What is the plan for this?
- What about pedestrian facilities? Take Sankey Road near the Palace grounds; pedestrians run across about 10 lanes of traffic risking life and limb.  Same on Richmond Road or Residency Road or JC Road. Many people like to walk, but the present city does not allow it!
- Where roads are widened e.g. Bellary Road, there need to be bus shelters, proper bus stops, etc.  How will bus users benefit from the road widening if there are no shelters.
- Given that the Metro is coming, there should not be anything in the plan that will structurally damage the city to encourage private transport.
- Remove some of the one ways on streets and make them bi-directional again. This will enable bus stops conveniently placed for people to use.

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