Namma Raste,Namma Ooru Walk from Lalbagh West Gate on Nov 9, 2008

Hasiru Usiru, a network of community organisations, residents associations, project affected communities, voluntary organisations and individuals concerned about protecting equitable access to public spaces such as roads and parks in Bengaluru, invite you to participate in a Walk to Reclaim Bengaluru on November 9th 2008, at 11 am at Lalbagh West Gate. The key purpose is to highlight the extensive damage that road-widening and Metro projects are causing to the city, destroying in the process lives, livelihoods and thousands of trees. This walk is also to demand an inclusive planning process in shaping our city and ensuring that short-sighted, elite induced, infrastructure development, does not cause irreversible damage to the city and ruin the lives of thousands.

* The Walk is to highlight that there are many progressive and intelligent solutions to the current problems of traffic congestion that do not involve destruction of thousands of trees, businesses and homes.
* The Walk is to emphasise the importance of including public consultations as required by law in road widening and Metro construction proposals. (Currently, both projects are being rushed through in blatant violation of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, amongst others.)
* The Walk is to emphasise that the Metro is a solution that can work only if integrated with bus based transport modes. (Building an elevated Metro will certainly ruin the city forever.)
* The Walk is to assert our right to participate in decision making relating to projects of our city.

To mobilise support for this Walk, we have developed a flyer and the same is attached.

Please feel free to print or forward the flyer and kindly use it in mobilizing the wide public to ensure maximum participation in the walk. We also request you to contribute to the expenses involved in this initiative.

Hasiru Usiru members are keen to meet with your community or organisation and explain why this Walk is so necessary now. Please confirm if you would like one of the Hasiru Usiru volunteers to meet with your community and make a presentation.

For details of participation or to make a donation please contact Nandini, Divya or Sharmila at Environment Support Group. Email: bellursharmila@yahoo.com / nandini@esgindia.org / divyarrs@esgindia.org. Call them at Environment Support Group on (080)26531339, (080) 22441977 (b/w 10:30 AM and 5:30 PM) on all working days.

Namma Rasthe.. Namma Uru.. Hasire Usiru!

(Our Roads…. Our City… Greenery is Life’s Breath)

Looking forward to your participation.

3 Comments so far

  1. sandman999 on November 2nd, 2008 @ 1:10 am

    It is a fact that most of the roads in Bangalore must be widened. But the roads being widened now are the ones which have trees on both sides and not the crowded roads with numerous shops right in the middle of the road (ok I exaggerate, but the shops are still on the road, literally). It is probably easier to cut down trees than demolish the shops that cause congestion because of customers walking around and parking their vehicles right on the road.

    Increase in the number of vehicles is a given as more and more people prosper to be able to afford it. I love trees, don’t get me wrong, but I am trying to play devil’s advocate here. Whats worse? Saving trees on narrow roads causing vehicles to be stuck and polluting the environment or widen the narrow roads enough for both smooth passage of vehicles and space for new trees to be planted (Trees will grow. 20 years is nothing in the great scheme of things. We probably wasted 30 to 40 years since independence anyways). Or we just have to keep India under-developed so that people can’t afford to buy vehicles.

    I appreciate the work being done by the environmental groups to protect the nature. The problem is that we are fighting the government. But my friends, the fight worth fighting is with ourselves. I was enraged when I visited Goa recently after a gap of 10 years. Plastic and garbage thrown everywhere. Even in a nice state like Goa. Even Kerala, the enlightened society (ok comparatively) stinks of garbage now.

    So my friends (not trying to sound like McCain, but I like the usage), the fight is with ourselves. Enlighten the masses. We need a cultural revolution (ok not as harsh as Mao’s). Respect queues. Give way for other’s vehicles even though they are driving maniacally. Hopefully they will be ashamed of themselves. Be a pacifist (ok not in national security, we still need those weapons). Reduce population. Everything else will fall in place in due course.


  2. Deponti (bglr_deepa) on November 2nd, 2008 @ 4:58 am

    Dear Sandman,

    That was a reasoned, articulate response; thank you!

    I do agree with you, that we need to discipline ourselves a lot, too.

    But on the subject of tree-felling and road-widening….we are against *indiscriminate* use of this facility, that’s all. The point is, that cutting down trees is irreversible, so what we are saying is, involve the citizens in this decision-making process, and let us cut down trees ONLY when there is no other solution.

    The other point is that widening the roads is actually adding to the problem, by allowing more vehicles to drive through the roads. And at the rate of 1500 vehicles being registered every day, the widened road will become choked up in no time. (This has already happened at several places.)

    Other cities have addressed this problem without getting rid of their green cover, so we also would like to look at similar solutions.

    We can learn from both the successes of other cities…and some spectacular failures, such as the 16-lane roads in Los Angeles which are still choked with traffic, and the Elevated railway in Boston which had to be broken down and re-constructed underground after the neighbourhoods degraded, the crime rates soared, and pollution hit all-time highs.

    Replantation is not a simple issue. In the first place, saplings cannot, in the short term, take care of oxygen and carbon di oxide, support plant and animal life, and bring down the ambient temperature the way a fully-grown tree can.

    Also, these saplings are planted far away from the sites where the trees are cut, so they cannot be beneficial to the microclimate of central Bangalore.

    Neither does there seem any guarantee that these saplings will grow to the majestic proportions of the trees that are being felled. 20 to 40 years may not seem much…but a few of the trees that have been felled are a 100 years old!

    All these are the reasons why we are asking to be included in the BBMP decision-making process, and want to give alternative solutions where possible.

    We are also concerned about the livelihoods of the vendors and small businessmen; they have as much right to be a part of Bangalore as the motorists, and they are not the people who can come to the BBMP and voice their concerns. Removing our rich street life can only impoverish our city and rob it of its vibrant character.


  3. sandman999 on November 3rd, 2008 @ 1:18 am

    Dear Deepa,

    I understand what you are trying to do and I appreciate it.

    Agree that the metro should be underground but they are just trying to save money by making it elevated at most places (I just hope the trains will be silent enough)

    But I disagree with the argument that widening roads will result in more vehicles. People will buy vehicles if they have money. They won’t look at the traffic or how wide the roads are before buying a car. The increase in the number of vehicles will be proportional to the prosperity of people and not the width of roads.

    Also, I disagree that vendors and small businessmen have to be protected sacrificing much needed road space. At least on arterial roads. No pain no gain. Look at Bannerghatta road. The street life is hell than rich. (A solution could be private service lanes for shops away from the main road, so that shops don’t face the main road. For this we need political will and some pain on the part of vendors. Sorry for being harsh on vendors but its the way forward).

    I agree with you on replanting. Widening v/s protecting trees will be a dilemma that will face us for many years to come. I was sad to see the trees disappear on Sankey road adjacent to the golf course. There could have been better solutions.

    I have to say that I would be grateful if you could take up the problem of vehicular emissions which have far simpler solutions. Just look at the thick smoke coming out of auto rickshaws and trucks. They are killing us slowly but surely. This can be addressed easily by enforcing strict emission checks by traffic police/RTO. Make regular spot emission checks with appropriate equipment and fine violators,so that they desist from using adulterated fuel. I hope you will campaign for this. Also it will be great if you could start a campaign against Bajaj (maker of majority of autos) and truck makers (Tata/Ashok Leyland) to make more environmentally friendlier vehicles. I wonder if the Bharat/Euro emission norms are applicable to autos/trucks. Please do something about this (I know it might be above our pay grade to campaign against subsidizing relatively higher polluting fuels like diesel and kerosene. But that’s another issue we have to deal in the near future).

    Thanks



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