Story of a suburb – Whitefield

Bridge1When Marathahalli bridge construction work was in full swing, and we were struggling to cross the run-down work site, I was thinking about connectivity problems of this east-of-Bangalore suburb. When I say Whitefield, I mean the whole Mahadevpura, ITPL, Whitefield, RG Halli, Brookfields, Kundalahalli region.

There are only two roads that connect this suburb with Bangalore. Besides Airport-Varthur road and K R Puram-ITPL road, which must be at least 7-8 km apart, no other major road crosses over Outer Ring Road (ORR). No wonder life was hell when they shutdown Marathahalli Bridge in Jan and Feb. Moreover, these two major roads wont suffice when a few close-to-completion residential complexes come to life in an year’s time.

Whitefield

Roughly speaking, the suburb is like a rectangle with Varthur Road, Whitefield main road, Chennai rail line and ORR forming the four sides. Save for the route to ITPL (Brookfields main road, 1st main – see above image courtesy google-maps) there are absolutely no good roads or well formed ‘layouts‘ that cut through the heart of this appx 60 sq km rectangular region. So if any of the three big routes have a problem (flooding last year, few agitations, two cases of mob violence, once in a while accidents), you are made to do some real 4×4 terrain driving over half-done interior roads..

There are two railway stations nearby, KR Puram and Whitefield, but neither good enough to save trips to the City railway station. K R Puram could easily take some load off the City rail station by being the terminus for many trains heading east, but no.

The region has no demarcated shopping area. Shops along Whitefield and Brookfields main road is the best you got. But for any serious shopping, highly likely that you will end up crossing ORR. No nice malls or multiplexes yet (Cosmopolitan Mall, a first opened about a month ago).

I don’t know of any big gardens or public parks around here. You only find either huge apartment complexes, or big and glossy IT/business parks under construction today. Someone needs to know that people need more than just houses and offices to survive.

Bridge2All put together, based on what I know, I see a suburb that isn’t living to its full potential. It can seriously de-congest Bangalore by making lots of people live around an already established job-center (ITPL-Brookfields region), but look at what you have today:

  • Tons of people commute everyday from west side (central Bangalore) choking the only two connecting roads
  • Not many people commute from east, north or south (Kadugodi, Hoskote, Varthur, why not?).

Real estate prices have risen slower than average lately, and commercial rentals too have dropped in the area (source: the real estate newspaper supplements). Some quotes from an ET article (21 Feb 2007):

… the going rate … of commercial rentals in Whitefield, which stood at around Rs 30 per sqft a year ago for an ‘A’ grade property, has come down to Rs 20 per sqft today. Rentals for ‘B’ grade properties are even lower … Rs 17 per sqft. ITPL … “While peak-time rentals were at Rs 50 per sqft, the same today is at Rs 44 … ITPL rentals could end up in the Rs 35-40 bracket in a year’s time,” said an industry analyst. …“The interest in Whitefield is lower these days. Connectivity is a major issue for … commute to and from Whitefield …” says Manisha Grover, national director, Jones Lang LaSalle India.

If oversupply is really the reason, it perhaps reflects the reluctance on part of people and businesses to move over now. It isn’t too late though, the place isn’t that congested or chaotic yet, and I am hoping the Greater Bangalore change will do the trick.

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14 Responses

  1. Agree with most points and disagree on some. The land price increase may have slowed down now, but in the last 3-4 yrs they have more kept pace with the rest of the real estate scene in Bangalore. Another point is about the KR puram railway station. Though efforts are being made to provide some parking and possible increase the number of platforms, it is still too small a station to take any meaningful load off the city station or cantonment. Unlike the Yeshwanthpur railway station which still had vacant space around it (and hence has all new trains sanctioned starting from), you dont see much space around the KR puram station. This is possibly why the metro station is at byappanahalli and not at kr puram.

    The rest I agree with. :-)

  2. Hmmm, you may be right about comparison of KR Puram and Yeshwantpur stations Ajay. Have you seen Navi Mumbai railway stations, and how they have 6-9 storey buildings right atop them? Forget that, given the location advantage (right on ORR and OMR), they can make lot better use of whatever space they have there. Ever stood on a platform there in pouring rain!?

    BTW, updated the post to include some quotes on commercial rentals.

  3. …but we can still have new Rly stns created. Can’t we? Say a Marathahalli Rly Stn, upgrade the dry port Whitefield to a passenger platform as well (i haven’t seen this Rly Stn), run trains from Bayapanahalli, or possibly from Majestic to Whitefiled (ITPL) atleast 3-4 times a day, etc…umpteen workable solutions…but why bother and who is bothered…

  4. Right Arun. I think we have discussed the railway possibilities earlier. Based on existing lines, Majestic-Whitefield should be definitely doable. Run all Volvos to Majestic, and local trains to ITPL, whats the problem? May be you’d need a new station behind Container Depot (right in the middle of K R Puram and Whitefield stations) and run shuttles from there.

    Though the route will be circuitous, they can do trains from Whitefield to Sarjapur area to Electronics City as well using existing Bangalore-Selam line (the one we have to cross at Marathahalli).

    Of course, there will be some work involved for above – new or updated stations, extra tracks. But it is frustrating to see existing stuff not getting used to the hilt. I think there was some reason to Railways pushing Metro to use broad guage.

    [Updated the post with a map-image of region]

  5. The railways has these push-pull services towards Mysore. They ought to plan for a few to Whitefield or KR Puram Rly station. I doubt if that line is filled to capacity.

  6. Dont you agree that we desparately need STANDARDS IN INFRASTRUCTURE PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT? Not tinkering with the ridiculous existing standards (if they do exist) but completely new STANDARDS IN INFRASTRUCTURE PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT.

  7. One of my theories is that India is at the stage of a survival society. Imagine taking a very hungry person to a buffet. This person has not had a square meal everyday for a long time. Now we ask him to hold his fork in his left hand and a knife in his right hand and put a napkin on his lap. The guy just wants to eat as much as he can and as quickly as he can.

    Get the drift?? We have lived for 50 years with a scarcity mindset. Everything is scarce, perceived or real. A telephone was a scarce commodity. Even now electricity is a scarce commodity. Roads are scarce. School seats are scarce. In such a context, niceties such as long term planning, basic courtesies, etc. have no place in life. See our behaviour at a traffic light. It is almost as though if we miss this green light, we are condemned in hell forever.

  8. Pranav some tangential rants….

    Regarding rail services, pranav, I think the plan for metro extension of bypanahalli line upto whitefield was submitted to govt approval. What happened to it I dunno. It is interesting the latest update of list of stations mentions peeNya & JP nagara on the N-S line but extenstions on the east west line (gnyana bharathi & whitefield) have not found any mention. I just hope it is some sloppy scanning. (It happens, some documents on BMRC site have missing pages)

    Then some exiting news. According to some blessed person( ghee shakkar phoole phale) on one of the forums, there has been some digging around in the attibele & chandrapura areas behind namma metro barricades. What this means I have no clue, perhaps you have some resources who can get more info?

    Ofcourse, you guys were discussing the intra-city-trains CRS. But I have not heard of the CRS for a while. Perhaps, it is because co-ordination with railways is difficult. The double dragon of jurisdictional & BG/SG conflicts. I think one of the primary reasons for moving to SG was to gain jurisdictional autonomy. But the flip side of this is that if you look at the metro lines, it is duplicating existing network. But autonomy might be more important & a more robust solution in the bigger scheme of things, even if not optimal.

    Ok I have to wind up now, coming back to whitefield, the spread of intra suburb roads seems grossly inadequate & as they exist put heavy loads on whatever roads exist.
    There are some huge projects in various stages of implementation, in the area with shops, malls, hotels & what not. Shantiniketan, I think is one, there are others that skip my mind. I think the era of layouts is done in Bangalore. Too much space, too much sprawl.

    IM… you have touched upon a very important issue. Will get back later.

  9. IM, the more I know, more I realize that Planning and development norms are in place. If we need a push, its got to be in the area of enforcement and adhered execution.

    Tarle, oh, didn’t know about Metro digging up in those areas. I am guessing it must be a feasibility study (soil, water table etc?) for possible routes. Sadly for us living in this suburb, no such activity visible in Whitefield area.

    I agree that era of layouts and plots may be done. Aren’t 30×40 plots in “open” layouts (with security, lack of public facilities – parks, playing space as concerns) are beginning to look less attractive compared to private planned residences (apartment complexes, gated communities). Paying for those necessary public facilities in your “private” residential complex is like indirectly paying a “quality of life” tax, just that you pay that to the builder and not government!

    Sri, true. If you have it right then thats good news, because, things will be streamlined after the turbulence that happens after choke-points (some fluid dynamics for you!)

  10. […] Story of a suburb – Whitefield […]

  11. […] Connected to the city via the Whilefield railway station in Bangalore, the accessbility to this place is only going to get better sooner than later when the Namma Metro of Bangalore comes up. With literally thousands of geeks commuting daily to this park from all over Bangalore, everyone have taken notice of this opportunity to provide services such as cabs, private and government buses, Volvo buses, and even car pools to ITPB. […]

  12. Is 2 wheeler parking available at Krishnaraja Puram railway station, Bangalore? Can I park my bike for 4-5 days, I mean during the journey period?

  13. Interesting article…I personally believe that whitefield will be the most sought after destination not very long from now..and my reason for believing so is the high quality retail and commercial potential that this area has already and not based on future predictions,as i assume we are all aware of the marathalli success story..and also the very fact that the businesses that already exist in whitefield are going to take care of the future needs ie infrastructure wise…for example the marketablity of brilliant projects such as shantiniketan,forum mall,host of high fly residential communities…depends on it…iam quite sure the problems will be resolved soon enough..I dont have too much time to get into the details on connectivity,but on that subject i would like to say that self contained paralels is already on the cards for the future of most developing cities!…but on the whole i think whitefield is value for money at the current rates!…and i also believe whitefield will represnt the best that bangalore can offer in the not so distant future!Cheers!

  14. Very Nice read. I believe that Whitefield is going to be the next electronic city of Bangalore and property rates are going to touch sky.

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