BENGALURU: Unending congestion on the roads has become an everyday affair in the city, threatening to strip Bengaluru of its ‘dynamic city’ tag. Heads of foreign missions in the city feel chaos on the roads can impact state’s ability to attract foreign investments.
“Traffic congestion is really a major problem,” Japanese envoy Takayuki Kitagawa, who recently took over as the Consul-General of Japan in Bengaluru told Express. “Whether Bengaluru retains the Number One city tag or not depends on how the government deals with this problem,” said Kitagawa - the first Japanese Consul General in the city. Status of the Japanese mission was upgraded recently from Consulate to Consulate-General of Japan, which is an independent diplomatic mission reporting directly to Tokyo.
According to Kitagawa, similar concerns were expressed by heads of other foreign missions in the city.
Bengaluru, it can be recalled, topped the list of most dynamic cities in a report released at the World Economic Forum earlier this year. The IT city is blessed with nice weather, environment for innovation and good living environment and it also attracts talent, he said. “Karnataka is famous among the Japanese investors, thanks to good policies and officials who respond to their issues. However, congestion on roads is the only bottleneck,” he said.
Japan is ready to help Karnataka to de-congest roads. In 2015, during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India, Japan had offered financial assistance for the Peripheral Ring Road project that is delayed due to land acquisition related issues.
“The state government is trying to complete the project and we are even willing to help them in land acquisition. We may be able to help them by providing another financial programme. If Karnataka comes up with a proposal, our government can consider it,” he said.
“We travelled by Metro last week. It is very comfortable and almost like the metro in Tokyo. It is very nice and clean. It will help to solve problem to some extent,” he added.
Tokyo recognizes the importance of Bengaluru and Karnataka and that was reason for upgrading its Consulate to Consulate-General. In the last four years, the number of Japanese firms and people staying in the city has doubled. “In Bengaluru we have 470 Japanese firms, and 1300 Japanese nationals living here. It is the fastest growth in India,” he said.
Such is the growth that the officials at the Consulate-General are even thinking of starting a Japanese school in the city as around 100 Japanese students take supplementary classes at private school.