Friends of Bangalore, help with this PIL

If you know what’s a PIL, and you want to be a party to filing one, let me know. And before that, let me tell you what I am thinking here.

The problems Bangalore is dealing with today have all been blamed on ‘unexpected’ rapid growth. Governments, state and local, have admitted this. Fine and we all agree.

Now, remember how we still keep hearing news like these. IBM to invest millions in Bangalore, Cisco to invest further millions in Bangalore, Accenture to double size in an year.

When we have raised our hands and accepted unmanageable growth as the real reason, then the first thing to do to deal with the situation is to control this growth. Right?

So, how about a PIL to ask that state should not allow any further “investments” in the city till it can prove that it is ready to handle the incremental growth resulting from each “investment”.

Let me translate that better. Let us say IBM wants to open a big office to seat 10000 folks. Before government allows the new office to operate, it must prove to the court that it has taken steps to handle 2000 more cars and 4000 bikes that will ply to the new facility. It must show it has worked on arranging 10 MW of power this new building will need.

Why not? Or else the residents will pay the price for this growth in terms of less space on the road, longer power cuts somewhere else to feed this new facility and more. Why should we?

If it makes sense, please join in, and we will try filing a PIL. No more growth, till you are ready to handle it!

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21 Responses

  1. Hi!

    Sure. 100%. I am joining you all.


    Thanks
    Srinidhi

  2. I don’t agree with your argument. If you need more jobs,economic growth then we must welcome new companies coming into Bangalore with red carpet. I understand Bangalore is not planned to handle such an increasing growth in terms of population and vehicles..But I will blame the government..lazy officials..lazy government babus who are not implementing any PWD work or any public utility work efficiently and in a professional manner. We Indians have to learn lot of things from Singapore , Japan , USA…In india everyone thinks , by protesting they will make some news…Problem with India is more freedom given to people. Extreme freedom for everything. That is the problem with India. I like Singapore in that matter..freedom with a boundary. I think right now India need Singapore model of democracy. Mera Bharat Mahan!

  3. Saying mera bharat mahan sitting there in the US is easy. Come spend a week in Bangalore and then we will talk.

    Another thing you must realize is that our problems are unique to us, and we can’t necesarily replicate what others have done. Our problems could most closely resemble europion union (similar population density, multiple small country states) situation. But certainy not US (lots of space, older democracy), Singapore (a city with little extremes).

    And last, your saying that entire blame rests with netas and babus – that is exactly the problem! We let them do all they please, so we are a party to the blame. Take an analogy. If you pay someone to come clean your house everyday, you do monitor his work to check if your house is clean to your satisfaction. Right?

    Back to the topic, I am not saying we should stop growth at Bangalore. Let us learn how to do controlled growth. And teach some lessons on controlled growth to the government. And indirectly, make sure growth gets spread around to nearby areas and other cities. Bangalore just does not have space, let us spread that awareness around. Please.

  4. did you recieve my mail?

    regards to this post.
    i beleive, there are town planning laws which have such rules as the minimum road width for buildings of a given height. also, there are environmental clearances that must be obtained. these include all impact studies.
    but the real question is, what good are these studies because inpite of these all these projects have had net negative effect on their environment.
    (who gave environment clearances to all these malls bang in the middle of CBD?)

    what is it man? so many protocols, checks and balances etc are there. yet there is chaos. how will all these be rationalized and bullet proofed?

  5. The main actor in this system of check and balance – us, the citizens – is dormant. That is the single biggest reason for this chaos.

    Didn’t get your email Subba. Could you resend. silkboard [at] gmail [dot] com.

  6. Yes, I agree.

    This PIL will be an eye opener for the state and make them realize their duties and responsibilities towards tax payers…

    Despite the ministreties knowing the growth potential they don’t hire professional services towards planning and forecasting, managing cost and budgets for ongoing maintainance, nor have have SLA’s and accountabilities built into the contractors for the work done.

  7. hmm..
    sent a two page mail man….

  8. Lemme tell ya somethin’ you aint gonna need a PIL for this thing. Jus tell the MNC instead of investing millions, invest billions for
    1. Buying enough land for a satellite town
    2. Building roads, shopping malls, hospitals & schools all self contained
    3. Let em create their own satellite city next to Bangalore

  9. Scarlet, that sort of thing is almost happening. Heard of SEZ concept? Just that MNCs cant do it, only Indian cos can.

    A satellite city next to Bangalore is the best way of dealing with this ‘growth’ thing. I agree, read here. Govt’s peripheral road plans are supposedly aimed at developing these satellite towns. So is the BMIC plan. But look what has happened there.

  10. The problem with that is because the govt is interfering. Govt is not good at making plans let alone execute them – that is the problem. We have people whose thinking is like – let us move all companies some x kms away from bangalore, let us promise them a thin pipe like hosur road for connectivity. The result is people waste 4 hours or more per day just commuting.

    Maybe the govt should empower companies to wholistically solve problems and it should be a single window clearance.

    Just tell companies to
    1. Bring in money
    2. Bring in employment
    3. Bring infrastructure
    4. Bring housing and civilization support units (Campus cities)
    5. Bring environment improving ideas like nature parks & animal reserves
    6. Basically bring in everything the everyone needs

    I think the IISC campus is an example where you live, learn etc.

    The BMIC is a different discussion.

  11. Good idea. Do the work for this PIL, ppl will offer help only after they hear this thing got filed. Not many will help with any “shrama” required for filing this PIL. Each Indian wants things to improve, but without him/her directly doing anything towards it. Afterall, it is in hinduism itself – wait for the God to come down and fight the war for you. So we are all waiting for Kalki-avatara.

    Ours is country of shamelessly selfish and “darpok” people, like yours truly.

  12. Hi, You’d mentioned on your blog a while ago that a few committed citizens from Koramangala had filed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation). Interestingly, it was meant to be against illegal commercialisation of this residential locality, and hoped to set a precedent that could then be used for other parts of Bangalore. What ended up happening, as far as I can make out, was that the powers that be (or were, at the time) saw it fit to turn it into a resident against resident’s battle, by ignoring the commericialisation aspect – and gross building violations – and concentrating on residential violations. That certainly is an issue – and should be curbed – but it’s not as rampant and/or as harmful as unchecked, illegal commercialisation.

    The case is still being heard, and I think a few other residents’ groups also supported the PIL. But it does need support from amongst Bangaloreans – and a clear sighted focus on the larger picture, rather than (only) our personal issues – to combat the rot that’s setting in. I agree with you entirely that our passivity contributes to the problem. For the PIL, remember it takes an excellent lawyer, a very clear focus and a list of well-thought out suggestions with that focus.

    And the next time the elections to local bodies come around, vote. It’s not just our right, it’s our responsibility. Let’s hope by then that the Election Commission includes a ‘none of the above’ response in our ballot paper!

  13. Thanks for the hints Anusyua. Yes, Koramangala PIL should be a good case study here. It got lost in reality – the reality that there are just too many violations. BTW, most are by the residents, not commercial buildings, though the commercial ones appear more prominent.

    The rot settling on is so deep, that 10 years from now, our cities could just implode. We are approaching a no return zone. Yet, sadly, we – the residents – just keep settling for less and less. Most we do is whine amongst ourselves.

    It seems to me that PILs are the only way of doing constructive complaints.

    Unfortunately, my friend circle is all techies. Wish a friend had studied law :). I am trying to find more about PIL, what it takes, effort invovled etc. If you have any information or experience, please let me know. Hopefuly, I will get to talk to some Koramangala guys soon.

    ScarletP, handling all infra-development jobs to private firms will be a bit much to expect rightaway. In the near term, let us try force govt to provide better services.

    Srinidhi, Rajesh, thanks for voicing support.

  14. See PIL or any kind of litigation results in scaring away investors, today we have lost to states like Andhra Pradesh tomorrow we will lose to states like Haryana.

    The Govt and its bodies like BDA, BMRDA etc. have already been given the chance. As far as we remember different political parties in the Govt and all variety of coalitions have come and gone. I think the days have come where we need to explore alternatives to getting-it-done with the Govt. and its bodies system. There is no point forcing the Govt-&-its-bodies, they are better off retired or given a deskjob. We need to work towards cost cutting for Govt-&-its-bodies, that is a different discussion.

    The problem is that companies grow at a rate of more than 10-15% where as the rest of the ecosystem grows below 10%.

    These high growth rate companies need empowerment.

    High growth rate companies have built excellent office campuses around bangalore, they are even visited by tourists from abroad – like visiting tajmahal.

    There are arcane rules that restrict companies to build only commercial establishments and not ecosystems, these also need to be eliminated.

  15. Hi, the moot point is that the extent of violations by commercial establishments – across the city – is far greater, in general, than that by residents. I mean, there’s a difference in 150% violation including not providing enough parking (which then spills out onto the roads) and 10% violation in the set back of the house you live in. And I think the last thing the government should do is to regularise violations – what message does that send to builders (resident and commercial)? It’s fine to violate so long as you wait a bit for the state to okay it? Sigh.

    You’re welcome to chat with the citizens of Koramangala whenever you like. Let me know, and I’ll be happy to set it up for you. Also, for more on the PIL, check http://www.ielrc.org/india/litigation.php and/or speak to someone at Alternative Law Forum: http://www.altlawforum.org – great legal expertise there!

    You – and others interested – could also join the SaveKoramangala maillist at yahoogroups if you’re interested. And btw, I don’t think – unlike others who’ve commented – that the answer is necessarily ‘less’ government. Otherwise all that will happen is a company oriented strategy that will be about short term gains for a privileged set of communities. But certainly, the solution might be a ‘right’ form and shape of government, with strong civil and corporate society contributions. How might that happen? By making democracy work, not just in letter but in spirit. Blogs like this are a good start in the virtual world, and I hope your efforts in the real world will be the next step! All the best.

  16. We all are not against growth, but against asymmetric growth. Whether we like it or not growth happens (I wish I could remain 18 years old forever but I grow). Here some are growing faster than others.

    we feel the issue is about lack of controlled or managed growth. It is about how to grow elegantly without stepping over each other. There needs to be a framework to achieve this. The framework defines what rules need to exist when. If during growth there are violations of rules then comes litigation. The first step should be a framework for growth not a PIL.

    IBM, Accenture et al are the good guys bringing in millions and jobs to our brethen, maybe they are not the commercial people who have antagonised koramangala residents. Also I am not an expert on the koramangala issue, due respects to that. But my stand is, folks – litigation is civil war, typically people who are at war forget why it was started in the first place.

    We should be open to alternative ideas, willingness to experiment instead of blaming the govt. Going back to the govt is like flogging the dead horse, maybe we need to carry that excess baggage for some more time.

  17. Noone is against thousands of jobs IBMs and Accentures will bring to Bangalore. Not me for sure. The aim is to try force “managed” and “controlled” growth, by hook or by crook. Because its getting late!

    Urban development can’t be a purely private sector driven exercise. Local govt has to learn to do its job, and play a good regulator. Its not about flogging the dead horse. The correct analogy will be to kick and make this horse jump and run – its not dead, its just asleep.

    From what I see, ordinary folks like me and you have only two ways to make significant differences: 1) RTI based activism. 2) PILs.

  18. Guys, let’s get to it!

    I am ready to sponsor the lawyer fees…

    unfortunately i don;t know any lawer here….is it a good idea to ask those Parivartan guys for legal help, i am sure they will someone…

  19. There is another town across the world where government did not anticipate growth. People leave their homes at 5.30 am so that they can get to their desks at work before 8. Where citizens have been demanding better roads, trains and buses – but the government has done precious little.

    There is no PWD to eat up money – but money does vanish – where there is a will (read human) there is a way.

    If there was a (god forbid) a big accident on the ‘Ring’ road (called the beltway) – people get home at 11 at night after a regular day at work.

    So Bangalore is not alone in this misery. This other place I refer to is Washington , D.C – home of the 3rd worst traffic in USA.

  20. Vj, Nothing can compare with Bangalore though. Your 5:30 am to 8 am commute would be a 100 miles. Here, we crawl at avg speed of 10 km/h. You dont ever drive on gravel-yards. Here we have some roads (Koramangala) that are just piles of pebbles. Actually forget the raods and traffic, I can just go on and on.

    Infrastructure isn’t about roads alone. One or two blackouts everyday. Pathetic water supplied to homes and that too once in two days at times. No place for kids to play. No footpaths to walk on. Shortage of schools.

    Our urban areas aren’t fit to be called “cities”. Each of our metro city is essentially a city-worthy (downtown) area (Bangalore CBD, South Mumbai) sorrounded by many “almost shanty” towns.

    Rajesh thanks for the offer. I will sure take up on it. Will post and update on this blog once we (myself and friends) figure precise ‘how’s and ‘what’s here.

  21. would like to join in.

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