BANGALORE, November 11: A panel discussion that was meant to find the city’s “past in the present” turned out to be a woeful comparison between past glory and present problems . From a total of lack of awareness about Bangalore’s glorious history of being “one of the finest cities in India” to the lack of initiative to create awareness, and the missing attention to problems of the present, the panellists and the audience explored several aspects of the city.
Chiranjeev Singh, former Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, offered a cynical view taking part in the discussion on ‘Bangalore – finding the past in the present’, organised by the Rangoli-Metro Art Centre here on Sunday. Comparing the Bangalore of the 1970s when he first came here to the present, he said, “Creating awareness about what? The government, officers, councillors and the people seem to believe that history is bunk.”
Pointing to the lack of planning, Mr. Singh said in cities such as Chandigarh and New Delhi, spatial and road planning was done before buildings came up. “The biggest blame should be at the door of the government; it has broken all the bylaws. In 1974, I prepared a draft which was approved by the then Chief Minister D. Devaraj Urs that road planning should be made before the formation of layouts. It was sent to the Bangalore Development Authority, etc., but I don’t know what happened,” he said.
Elaborating on how the ‘government is the culprit,’ he said Cubbon Park, earlier, was an ‘English parkland’ and not the ‘urban jungle’ it is today. “But the Vidhana Soudha was constructed inside the Cubbon Park, then the Reserve Bank of India. When there is power and money, what will the poor trees do? The telecom tower was then constructed, and M. Visvesvaraya’s house was demolished to make way for the Visvesvaraya Towers. This was a violation of all byelaws,” Mr. Singh added. He said the need of the hour was to address the “serious water problem” staring Bangalore in its face.
Among the suggestions put forth to create more awareness was author Maya Jayapal’s, who said text on Bangalore’s history could be introduced in schools.
Suresh Moona of the NGO AARAMBH said information on heritage sites and monuments, as well as graphical timelines of the history of the places could be displayed at the entrances of these sites while Bangalore’s history could be advertised at railway, bus and metro stations.