8.24.2006

Taking Dr. Mallya literally

Background :
Biocon Ltd chairman and MD Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw interviewed UB Group chairman Vijay Mallya on the ills of Bangalore and the possible solutions for The Times of India and this particular part has relevance to what I want to say :

KM : How would you tackle traffic congestion in Bangalore?

VM : Bangalore needs to demarcate its Central Business District and use tolls, congestion fees and software to regulate traffic in the CBD. Cities like London and Singapore have successfully managed traffic congestion through these methods and I don’t see why we can’t do the same. Autorickshaws need to be confined to suburbs and banned from the CBD. We need to introduce car pool lanes on Hosur Road and Whitefield Road to ease traffic density. Bangkok has transformed itself from a mega-traffic-jam city to a free-flowing traffic city through a network of tollpaying elevated roads. We need to borrow from successful ideas and not try to reinvent the wheel. We need to implement the Metro and the Mono Rail projects at breakneck speed. Schools need to manage traffic in a more responsible way. We need more multistoreyed car parks. We need underpasses and overpasses to regulate pedestrian traffic and we need to prevent stray cows and dogs from impeding traffic as well!

CM : He hotly refused to burden the citizens with more taxes.

My take:
Day before yesterday our office shuttle driver decided to take a short cut through a layout in Whitefield to avoid all the traffic logjam on the now internationally (in)famous Marathalli bridge. So, there we were sailing "smoothly" through all the pot holed roads, which is the fact of life for most inner roads of Bangalore layouts. Suddenly we saw a group of guys jumping around on the road in the distance. We did not understand till we came up to them that the war dance that they were performing was to ensure that any approaching vehicle stops before it hits them. Ok so we dint have a choice but to stop, what with two over-enthu guys gleefully blocking the narrow road. The other two guys approached the driver and demanded Rs. 10. Our man was confused. Then one of the guys was kind enough to explain that it was (....now listen to this....) the "toll" for using that road! Many vehicles (cars, tempo travellers and the ilk) plying through erstwhile quiet neighbourhoods near IT hubs have become a menace for the people living there. The narrow roads are not tarred and with every passing vehicle a fresh drift of dust is ushered into every house. One cannot forget the noise pollution which the first-geared vehicles produce. Sometimes there are traffic jams even on these "short-cut" roads. Understandably the frustration of the populace mounts.

We got away that day without paying the ten rupees either because the guys were sheepish about their task or the driver was too much of a match for their wit.

Bangalore's citizens, even if its only jobless opportunist youths, are taking it into their hands to implement what Vijay Mallya suggested and what the CM would not! Is it the correct path? I dont know. I am not here to judge. Nevertheless, kudos to their guts and entrepreneurship!

Long Live Bangalorean Enterprise :)
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