Indiranagar fights back for living space

Residents remember a time when there was a haunting and peaceful silence.

Published: 13th March 2017 05:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th March 2017 05:02 AM   |  A+A-

Today the same spot is where a visitor is welcomed by a crowded road

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Over 250 residents of Indiranagar led a candlelight procession through the 100-ft Road  on Saturday. With placards and sloganeering, the marchers were asking for more breathing and living space.

City Express had a chat with few who have been residing in the area for more than thirty years, to trace the transition from a peaceful outback to a maddening crowd.

S Venkateswaran, born and brought up between Indiranagar and Ulsoor, is now 80 years old. “People used to be scared of Indiranagar because it was infamous for the graveyard,” he says. “There were hardly two houses and many snakes and mongoose would lurk around since the area also had vegetable gardens. People used to believe the area was haunted.”

In the eighties, Dupanahalli bus stop was the last on that stretch says a long-time resident.

Silence after 6 pm

When in 1964, Nandihal built her house in the area. “I was scared to venture out of the house after 6 pm,” she says. “My relatives used to warn me about thefts and snakes.”
There was one police station for all of  Indiranagar back then and residents used to  patrol the area for four hours in the night. “Around five or ten of us used to get together in nightfall and patrol the area because police were far away,” says Philip D’Costa who came to Bengaluru as the student of Indian Institute of Science in 1968. “Indiranagar was so empty that I could see Vidhana Soudha from my balcony,” he says.

Mixed Bane

Venkateswaran says that in 1970 it was mandatory for all families constructing houses in Indiranagar to plant a tree. “Despite the rapid commercialisation, after the IT boom in 2000, some of the trees still remain,” he says.

The concept of  “mixed zone” emerged in 2008,  when BDA’s Revised Master Plan allowed it, and  there was an uproar. Petition 3676 was filed by the residents and cases were fought. High Court passed the judgement that 1995 Master Plan was to be referred, overiding the new one.

“We are not against commercialization,” says Sneha Nandihal, president of B M Kaval RWA. “We are only insisting that commercial establishments to be set up in the area designated to them.” Praveen, another RWA member, puts is simply: “You cook in the kitchen and do your business in the toilet, similarly zoning regulations must be respected.”
According to High Court’s 2014 order, on the 3676 petition,  commercial establishments cannot be opened along roads of 40-ft width or less. But, residents say that this is not being enforced.

Sleepless Nights

Born and brought up in Indiranagar, Sneha says that it was in 2013 that she realized that commercialization was taking a toll on her health. “Just opposite my house, there was a boutique and they kept playing music... for two years, I could not sleep,” says Sneha.

Krishnan R, who is the president of Resident Welfare Association (RWA) of Indiranagar first stage, says that two years ago he faced a massive sewage problem. “Adjacent to my house, there is a residential building rented out to an office,” says Krishnan.

“Easily around 50-100 people come there to work... forget the parking troubles, the sewage line could not handle the extra load and it exploded. The sewage water seeped into my house and I had to fix it. I spent `25,000 for it.”

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