Empty promises, incomplete infrastructure, and already damaged facilities haunt Bengaluru’s Smart City Mission project.
Bengaluru’s newest redevelopment project, the Smart City Mission (SCM) is still on-going in some pockets of the city, while it has already started falling apart in other parts. Shivajinagar bus stop and Cubbon Park await its promised infrastructure, and the completed cycling tracks on Palace Road are in tatters.
Refurbishment of the pedestrian subway and terminal at Shivajinagar bus station is another project under SCM.
The proposal calls for a public toilet, mother care room, waiting lounge and refurbishment of the subway. The Public toilets and mother care room are ready but are not accessible to the public.
The subway at Shivajinagar bus terminal is closed and no redevelopment work has started.
Chaitra K.B, Professor of urban planning at BGS School said, “Subways should be accessible to public in such a way that people find it safe even during the night. Human activities will keep the subways lively. There should shops in the subways so that activities and crowd is always there and people don’t feel unsafe using it.”
T.K Gopal Krishna, Chief Financial Officer of Smart City project said that the re-development of parks and heritage sites will increase the footfall and attract more local visitors of the city. But the redevelopment of Cubbon Park is not going according to plan.
The protection and re-development of Cubbon Park, is divided into two phases. According to the work under Phase 1, there are supposed to be designated cycle tracks and jogging tracks marked on the existing roads. However, no new jogging or cycling tracks have been made within the park. The development of the lotus pond is also pending. The re-development of Cubbon Park is meant to cost Rs 20 crore.
Gopal Krishna said, “Phase 1 of the project is completed. The work for Phase 2 is 90 percent done. A few developments are left and will be completed by June before the deadline.”
An official from Karnataka Tourism Department said, “Good infrastructure including good hygiene facilities attracts local people. People from all over the world visit Bengaluru for several purposes. So to attract tourists and to promote tourism, city needs to have a good infrastructure.”
Bengaluru being an Information Technology (IT) hub of India should have an updated infrastructure with maximum security, signage, LED lighting’s all around the city, he added.
Development projects need to be completed on time to increase tourism in the city, Chaitra said.“Proper planning is needed to complete the work on time. Redevelopment process takes place in an area where there are issues to be solved. Maintenance is a problem but it should be a regular process,” she said.
She said that adding cycle and jogging tracks in the parks will attract people from all age groups.
In addition, the cycling lane marks on the footpath of Palace Road in Bengaluru are peeling off and are in a bad condition.
Gopal Krishna said, “It’s been a year since the cycling lanes were made on footpaths. But we’re unable to make a complete cycling path because of the congestion on the footpaths. The path has to be in a circular form. But due to large crowds, the cycling lanes are not yet completed. There is no continuation of the cycling lanes.”
He added, “Most of the work has been completed. We did fail a few deadlines but the final deadline for completion of all the 44 projects is June 2023 and we will complete all the projects by then.”
Sathya Shankaran, cyclist and Bicycle Mayor of Bengaluru said, “Pedestrians are never a problem for the cyclists. Even if they are walking on the cycle lanes, cyclists stop and wait for the pedestrians to cross the lane.”
He said that the green colored cycle lanes are painted on the footpaths and due to heavy rains, it does not last long. He suggested that the government should use enamel paint and various pigments to make a concrete mixture. But he said that this technology has not been introduced in India.
Gopal Krishna said that for three years (2021-24), the cycling lanes will maintained under SCM and after three years all footpaths and cycling lane will be handed to Bruhat Bengaluru MahanagaraPalike (BBMP). The contractor of the particular project will maintain the cycle lanes and footpath.
The centre selected 100 cities across India for the SCM. There are total 7763 projects costing Rs 1,81,575 crore. Over 5000 projects have been completed and 2629 projects are ongoing.
Under SCM, Bengaluru was provided Rs 1,000 crores out of which Rs 804 crore has been released as of December 2022. The city was selected for the project in 2017.