Kudla Needs ‘Smart Officials’ to make M’luru a ‘Smart City’?
Mangaluru: While Mangaluru City Corporation officials are cheering up on the news that Kudla being selected as one of India’s ‘Smart City’, but on the other hand they have turned a blind eye towards the existing civic problems/issues that have been haunting the city- from dilapidated roads, unfinished new roads, open drainage, bad footpaths, un-maintained gardens, unattended garbage, open gutters etc etc- With crores of rupees now getting ready to be pumped into the “Smart City” project, my only fear is that whether this city will turn into a “Smart City” or probably some “Smart Guys” will be stinking rich by pocketing in lump sum of this money the “Smart Way”- So a few Engineers, builders, contractors, and off course, politicians and City administrative officials will be making money in a “Smart Way” in the name of “Smart City?”. Anyways, let’s keep our fingers crossed until this project becomes a reality?
Development is good for any city and country. And if you just glance around in any major road today, you will see the un-missable sign of development in our beloved Mangaluru. Guess what!? It is the new buildings being raised in every major street / road in the city that is expanding at a pace so rapid, that you and I can only imagine. Wait… if you think that I am going to discuss about solving some socioeconomic/civic issues and especially the traffic situation, please stop reading! Or, if you have time to understand that there are no immediate solutions to some of the problems that we face, please continue reading…
It is really good that we have a city so vibrant and virtually in a position to take off to becoming a world class city, or what they are going to call it as a “Smart City” which will have its own enviable place in this world. With the new administration wanting to impress the citizens, and new plans of expansion and development, things are seeming bright for this wonderful part of the planet. But we ought to see whether we are destroying the present and at what cost is this development coming to us?
Or, I would like to put the question this way… Will we get any benefit at all? Of course under the “Smart City” plans-more fly-overs, broader roads and numerous underpasses, better transportation etc etc, all are beneficial for the society. But first, we need to understand what “benefit” is. I was born and raised in Mangaluru and know how it was at the turn of the century and how it is now. If you ask me, or for that matter, any Mangalorean, if the city has “developed”… they will quickly say “Yes”.
But if you drill down and really make them ponder over the thought of development, then they will slowly give you an answer something like “Yes… we have many educational institutions, many new malls have come up, it is much more urban than it was… but it is much more congested… and it is much more polluted… etc… etc..and the City Corporation is least bothered to fix the existing civic problems, especially bad roads filled with potholes. .”
Okay-I am not against City’s infrastructure comprising of educational institutions, hospitals, apartment buildings or shopping malls, but I just want to re-iterate that everything needs to be balanced, and as there is a demand, the supply needs to be planned in a way that does not affect the equilibrium! What good is development for future if your present is hampered!! Do you ever say that “I want to have money 5 years down the line so I will not spend now.”!? No! That is not the way life is meant to be…The classic example is some of the widened new roads in the city-By the time, these were conceived and completed, they had become meaningless! If everyday morning you see the kind of traffic jams on these new roads, you will be surprised and think – why these widened roads are required – the cars, buses and bikes can stand still!!
This is one of the instances that shows the lack of “futuristic” planning and implementation of our developmental projects. The City is only thinking about seminars, conventions, spending huge money on hoardings and other forms of advertisement etc pertaining to “Smart City” project, but is least bothered about existing civic issues and care less to rectify them. We need to fix the existing civic issues first, and then move forward with other plans. So, doing proper long term planning is important, but right from our road repairs to the more prestigious of projects, we are always very busy in solving the problems of today, and by the time we “Solve” the problem the problem has become bigger and more complex!
Many times, as is with the so called “Indian Attitude”, we run after quick fix solutions. I too belong to this band of quick-fix problem solvers, no one is excluded! If there is a pot hole, fix it, some how fix it, blame it on the road department, blame it on torrential rains, and pour some concrete on it and fix it. What is not understood and realized is the simple fact that why do potholes occur? This calls for a certain amount of thought, and identifying the real causes of the problem – which takes time and energy!! And that is what we always don’t have 🙂
So much has been written down on the road and traffic condition in Mangaluru that it is virtually predictable on what will be the next sentence about! Yes! But seldom do we see that all the problems being highlighted have no immediate solution. Departments that have been laying roads in a particular way, will continue to do so, we don’t have an immediate solution for this, as this calls for a cultural and attitudinal change which is very difficult to be brought into. So, what do we do? See and understand why roads are damaged, apart from the fact that the roads maynot be of the required good quality levels. This is where I beg to differ from the normal causes of road damage. Then we have potholes and badly designed speed breakers which just don’t just irritate drivers and damage vehicles- They may kill.
I have seen multiple times a perfectly laid out road being damaged by heavily loaded lorries and trucks that ply on the road. Majority of these lorries are laden with construction material like Mud, Cement, Sand, Jelly material – where will all the new buildings come from!! I have personally seen so many lorries loaded excessively spilling their loaded material on good quality roads when they go on a speed breaker or when they apply break – just like that. Many times I have had to break suddenly to avoid the spray of sand and jelly! Any bike riding citizen will agree with me in Mangaluru that we wear helmets more to protect ourselves from the dust and pollution caused by those dreadful lorries rather than to protect our heads! Once I have seen a lorry drop part of its mud load onto the road and it went off. It was not a small quantity, huge lump of mud that could fill one auto rickshaw trailer! And during rainy season, nothing else is required to make the road more dangerous…
Yes, this is the pain of development… and since MCC is not doing enough on their part, we need to be part of it… but there are some ways and means….Can someone who has got the authority and the wherewithal (we can not take the law into our hands), act? Yes… and this does not call for a costly project, but simple measures to ensure that…Like Pollution checks (Phew! I almost laugh sometimes when cops catch bikers and car drivers to check for emission certificates, what about the trucks that bellow out thick black smoke!!) Have routine checks against lorries / trucks that carry mud / construction material to see that they are clean, and don’t spill around the residue. Even though the city is spending crores of rupees every year on proper garbage disposal, we still see garbage here and there on the streets-something needs to be done about this.
Last but not the least, I appeal to one and all Mangaloreans that it is “OUR RESPONSIBILITY” to ensure a safe, good Mangaluru to live in and enjoy our lives. It is we who will make this another world class city or another burdened, loaded city where we can just exist, not live. And this is for all the working class people. Although our MCC officials are least bothered about the safety of the citizens and also show negligence in fixing some of the existing civic problems, it’s time that we all raise our voices and pressurize our elected MCC officials to act quick and rectify the civic issues first, and then move on to their “Smart City” project- that would definitely be a good idea, I think so!
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