Once a little-known Indian city, Bangalore today has captured the world’s attention for its IT excellence. Ironically, the very city that delivers innovative solutions to the globe is itself mired in civic chaos evidenced by bad roads, shoddy infrastructure, lack of water & power, unruly traffic and poor waste management.
It is the sheer inertia of the civic administration, misgovernment and lack of public engagement that has led to a state of decline in Bangalore. Technology has been poorly leveraged despite the visible transformational change that the internet and mobile phones have made to the socio-economic landscape.
Unfortunately, Bangalore, though a global brand, is not a world-class city today.
I believe we urgently need fresh thinking, collective effort and innovative solutions to solve the city’s myriad problems.
The path to becoming an innovative city
The Urban Land Institute has ranked Colombia’s Medellin as the Most Innovative City of 2013, ahead of New York and Tel Aviv.
The Institute has appreciated Medellin’s civic spaces, libraries, and art galleries, as well as its infrastructure and added that Medellin had excelled in increasing the mobility of citizens living in poor communities.
Medellin, once known as the most violent city in the world, is today a shining example of one of the most remarkable urban turnarounds in modern history.
According to the Urban World, innovative cities have focused on a key set of innovative measures that deal with delivering a good quality of life in a sustainable and enduring way for the future:
- Water and waste water
- Renewable and Green energy
- Transport and Infrastructure
- Financing urban development
- Tourism and Heritage
- Disaster management
I would add to these:
- Communication connectivity & IT infrastructure
I believe if Medellin can do it, we can also transform Bangalore into a world-class city through greater civic engagement.
Though Bangalore has earned the status of ‘IT & BT hub’ as well as India’s ‘Start-up Capital,’ the city’s crumbling infrastructure has not been able to keep pace with the massive development and industrial growth witnessed in the past decade.
To ensure that Bangalore becomes one of the preferred cities in the world with a high livability index, the Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC) has developed an ‘Agenda for Better Bangalore’ and has been engaging with the government, political leadership and civic bodies for the same.
The aim is to bring together all the city’s stakeholders, including its citizens, to a common platform for ensuring better governance and quality of life for the people of Bangalore by addressing the challenges of the city in the areas of physical infrastructure, social and civic set up.
10-Point Program for a Better Bangalore
If the government can implement the following 10-point agenda for Bangalore over the next five years, it can lay the foundation for a world-class city in the years to come.
10 Point Program for a ‘Better Bangalore’
1) Make Bangalore a pedestrian friendly city in the next five years by constructing 200 km of well-designed and standardised footpaths every year.
2) Make Bangalore garbage free through implementation of new technologies like waste-to-energy, making waste segregation at source mandatory and ensuring time-bound implementation of the ‘Kasa Mukta’ program.
3) Restore the ecosystem of Bangalore’s lakes in a time-bound, cost-effective manner and clean up and restore the storm water drain network that connects these lakes.
4) Construct elevated corridors in three key stretches viz., Silk Board to Hebbal, KR Puram to Yeshwantpur and ITPL to Mysore Road, to reduce traffic congestion in the city.
5) Make Bangalore’s roads free of potholes through a time-bound program and build speed-breakers of uniform size with illuminated markings.
6) Boost the city’s public transport system by obtaining federal government approval for Phase II of Namma Metro and simultaneously augment BMTC’s bus fleet.
7) For a world-class road network, award tenders under TenderSURE scheme for seven key roads in the central business district and consider another 16 for the same.
8) Make Bangalore one of the safest cities in the country for women and children by taking strong and decisive measures.
9) Set up a ministry for Bangalore under the chief minister supported by a dedicated secretariat and vision groups.
10) Ensure affordable housing for the urban poor through a targeted action plan aimed at making Bangalore inclusive and “slum free”.
B.PAC has already taken its commitment for better governance forward by introducing a first- of- its kind civic leadership program ‘B.CLIP’ in partnership with the Takshashila Institution. A nine-month extensive program will train socially concerned citizens in public service and good governance and prepare them to play a civic leadership role. The training for the first batch of 66 candidates drawn from various walks of life took off on Dec. 6, 2013.
As citizens of Bangalore we will need to make a concerted effort to engage with the political system for ensuring that the necessary initiatives are implemented to pave the way for a better Bangalore. Only then will we be able to transform Bangalore into a world-class city.
Kiran Mazumdar- Shaw