Bangalore clocked to be the fastest growing metropolis in India
“Bangalore, in many ways, is unlike the other great cities of India. Most of the other cities in India remind one certainly of the present, certainly of the future but essentially of the past. But Bangalore, as I said, more than any other great city of India is a picture,”Bangalore, in many ways, is unlike the other great cities of India. Most of the other cities in India remind one certainly of the present, certainly of the future but essentially of the past. But Bangalore, as I said, more than any other great city of India is a picture of the future…. “Jawaharlal Nehru, July 17, 1962True-bluh Bangaloreans, who had assembled in the stately Vidhana Soudha to listen to the late prime minister’s speech, were amazed at the new sobriquet for the city coined by Nehru. They had grown weary of it being called a pensioner’s paradise, air-conditioned town, mini-hill-station and garden city of India. But future city! Unbelievable! “It was a sleepy town at that time,” snorts 61-year-old M. Fazlul Hasan, the city’s Boswell.But 21 years later the city’s languorous existence has been rudely transformed into a reality it had never dreamed of but which came uncomfortably close to Nehru’s prophetic words. As Hasan bashfully admits: “The planners were pygmies in front of this new Goliath.”Vintage Bangalore is still there: the retired Brigadier Janki Das Kapur, his silvery white hair wind blown, as he strides briskly through the hazy morning, his walking stick tapping a marching beat on the tarmac in Indiranagar; the three Kothwala sisters cooped in their quaint Victorian house on Grant Road with its peaked gables, ridge tiles, skylights and colonnaded portico sheltering a 1949 model Standard Vanguard; pretty jacaranda trees lining the Main Guard Cross Road strewing it with a carpet of pale purple flowers in spring. But these are only glimpses of a euphoric past that is rapidly yielding to a totally different future.advertisementFeroz Khan, 45, is among the increasing number of film stars who have bought farms in Bangalore suburbs. The film mogul bought 27 acres of land about 16 km from the city and has built a ranch house complete with horses, cattle, coconut groves, snooker table and a swimming pool. For Khan who grew up in the city and was educated here the choice seems natural. Says he: “I decided to settle down in Bangalore because my roots are here. Bombay has become a slum city but in Bangalore you can get away from the daily strain of modern living and really relax.”But Bangalore has changed since Khan’s boyhood when the streets were so lonely after dark that they feared ghosts. He remarks: “I see a lot of industries now and there is a new affluence.” Khan too has set up a medium-scale foundry, because “I plan to retire here and I must have something to keep me busy besides film production.”Industrial Character: Instead of the chirping of birds, it is the clarion call of factory sirens that rouses Bangalore every morning. Kapur has been overtaken by an army of workers that can be seen marching on the roads to catch their morning bus. Among them is M.K. Pankajaksham, clutching his tiffin box and hurrying through the streets of Jalahalli to catch a bus that would take him to his factory on Old Madras Road, 20 km away.Even before dawn can show its reddish face factory buses are snarling through the streets. Weaving his way skilfully through the jam in his car is small-scale industrialist Vishnu Mathur, his tie knotted to perfection and his hair brushed slickly back, as he races towards the Peenya Industrial Estate on the outskirts of the city.On either side of the road the quaint old buildings and pretty avenue trees have yielded to a jungle of hard concrete moulded into ‘futuristic’ shapes that tower over the city marring the once soothing Victorian skyline. By midday Mahatma Gandhi Road, once a lazy street, is teeming with people. “We have become victims of RPM (revolutions per minute),” mourns M.A. Parthasarathy, who as secretary of the Bangalore Urban Arts Commission (BUAC) has been fighting to save old Bangalore.Bangalore’s changing face: The Srinivasans in their spacious garden on the banks of the Sankey Tank (right) which is now suffocated by a belt of high-rise buildingsRadical Transformation: So gradual has been the transformation that the city’s phenomenal growth has been largely ignored till very recently. In fact the mistaken belief that Bangalore could never be a city of the future clung to its planners for quite some years. But last year, after the Census Department completed its massive head count, to the astonishment of everyone including its planners. Bangalore was clocked to be the fastest growing metropolis in India. From a manageable 16.4 lakh people in 1971, the population has exploded to 29.13 lakh, a size the city planners had estimated it would touch only in 1991! Shaking his head in wonder, Census Director B.K. Das says: “It is undoubtedly the new boom town in the country.”The rest of the country is only now beginning to echo Das’s sentiments. Consider the facts:advertisementWith a fantastic growth rate of 76 per cent in the last decade, Bangalore has outstripped the 12 other cities in the country which have a population of more than 10 lakhs. Only Jaipur with 57 per cent and Delhi with 56 per cent come anywhere close to matching Bangalore’s phenomenal growth rate. The percentage growth for the other nine cities in the last decade was – Pune: 48, Ahmedabad: 43, Hyderabad: 40, Nagpur: 39, Bombay: 37, Madras: 34, Kanpur: 32, Calcutta: 30, and Lucknow: 23. The all-India average for cities was 46 per cent. Bangalore is now estimated to be among the first 10 fastest growing cities in the world.Bangalore is hailed as the scientific capital of India and now has the highest concentration of scientific institutions and talent in the country. It has become a nerve-centre for space research and astronomy with the headquarters of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics located in the city. With 400 Ph.D. holders on its faculty the Indian Institute of Science (IISE) has become the hub of scientific research. Among the other institutions that have flocked to the city are the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, the National Tuberculosis Institute and the Raman Research Institute. Vishnu Mathur, who holds a doctorate from London University, is among those who have made a mark in the small-scale industries which formed the backbone of Bangalore’s phenomenal growth. Mathur, a former executive of a giant multinational corporation, was impressed with Bangalore’s “special place in electronics” and set up an electronic component industry in 1969 in the Rajajinagar Industrial Estate. Another reason why Mathur chose Bangalore, as he shyly admits, was that “I couldn’t miss my beer, and the city has the best”. Mathur also points out that the city had good infrastructure facilities like schools, housing and entertainment. Starting with an initial turnover of Rs 2 lakh in 1972, Mathur touched the Rs 60 lakh figure last year and was awarded the President’s Gold Medal for import substitution in 1981.The city is a smaller version of California’s Silicon Valley and accounts for a third of the total production of electronics in the country and manufactures 80 per cent of the professional electronic equipment. The two public sector giants, the Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) are situated in the city apart from the government-owned concern, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited.Nippon Electronics Limited, Hegde and Golay, British Physical Laboratories and around 250 small-scale industries manufacturing electronic components. While ITI holds a virtual monopoly in the production of telephone instruments and automatic exchanges, BEL is the single largest manufacturer of TV tubes and semiconductors accounting for half the country’s production apart from producing complex sophisticated equipment for the Defence Ministry like radars and microwave equipment.advertisementBangalore is the Mecca for aeronautics and the Jaguar, the Indian Air Force’s most sophisticated fighter, is now being assembled in the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) complex on the outskirts of the city. HAL has manufactured 2,400 aircraft and has designed more than a dozen of them including the Marut (HF-24), Ajeet, Pushpak, Basant and Kiran. Apart from HAL all the key aeronautical research and development organisations are located in the city.With a battery of eight industrial estates girding the city. Bangalore has one of the largest conglomeration of industries in the country. In the past decade more than 300 large- and medium-scale industries have come up apart from 9,000 small-scale industries that have mushroomed in the suburban industrial estates like Peenya, Veerasandra, Dyavasandra, Old Madras Road and Mysore Road. An estimated Rs 500 crore has been invested both in public and private sector industries since 1970.Kumar Narayan, 34, from Calicut in Kerala, came to the city seven years ago when he couldn’t find a job in his own district. Kumar is part of the huge influx of migrant labour from neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, who have found work in plenty after the industrial boom began in Bangalore. Starting as a helper in a small-scale industry making precision mining products in Peenya, Kumar, who used to earn Rs 3 a day, is now a grinder in charge of a section of 10 workers and draws a salary of Rs 500 a month. But Kumar complains: “We get work in Bangalore easily because there are so many jobs. But wages are low. I spend most of my salary on food and house rent.” Kumar now shares a room with two others in Chokkasandra village near Peenya where they pay Rs 120 a month as rent. But he finds Bangalore a good city to live in because there is never a language problem and “we can adjust and live easily here”.It has emerged as India’s Epsom for racing, being the only city to hold races eight months in a year. A total of 400 races are held every year and an estimated 1,200 horses participate with stake money averaging Rs 1.5 crore, making it the premier racing centre in the country. Eighteen stud farms have come up in and around the city, again the largest number for any racing circuit in the country.It is the new boom town for builders with 180 multi-storey complexes coming up in the past five years resulting in a tenfold in crease in land prices and house rents rising by 400 per cent. An estimated 80 million sq ft of land worth more than Rs 1,200 crore has been bought up in the past six years.Surveying the colossal development from his mansion, which is one of the few bungalows left in Bangalore with a large garden, 85-year-old M.A. Srinivasan. a patriarchal citizen of the city, wears a gloomy countenance. From his house on the banks of the beautiful Sankey Tank, one of the few remaining water sheets in what was once a city of lakes, the change in Bangalore is clearly apparent.Srinivasan’s house which once stood like a lone sentinel over Sankey Tank is now suffocated by a belt of newly-built houses. In the distance, skyscrapers dwarf trees and stick out like ugly rods against the backdrop of an azure sky. Staring reflectively at the bleak horizon Srinivasan remarks: “The charm of Bangalore, like other charms, has been its undoing.”The fatal charm that Bangalore exudes is, of course, its climate that has lured most of its immigrants. Sitting prettily on a plateau at an altitude of 3,000 feet, Bangalore is an irregular blob on the right lobe of the kidney-shaped state of Karnataka. The altitude bestows it with not only a uniformly cool climate the year round, but also abundant greenery that has earned for it several endearing nicknames.Workers in the IT1 factory: Phenomenal growthUnlike any other major city in India, Bangalore is neither situated near the coast nor does it have a river to quench the thirst of its residents or turn the wheels of industry. Instead, it has to depend mainly on the Cauvery river flowing in a valley 80 km away and has to pump its water up a steep gradient.Yet it has grown from the small village that it was when a petty chieftain called Kempe Gowda established it in 1537 A.D. Cutting down dense jungle, Gowda ordered four bullock-carts to plough their way in different directions from a central point and built a fortress around the area where they stopped. His son Gowda II built four conical towers, which stand to this day beyond the fort gates, and predicted that the city would grow to these limits.But Gowda could never have imagined the extent that Bangalore would grow to. Like the primordial atom in the big bang theory of the universe, Bangalore exploded, sending splinters in all directions that spread with amazing rapidity, especially after India’s Independence.From an area of hardly 18 sq km, Bangalore raced past the conical towers erected by Gowda II and this year encompassed a total of 600 sq km and was still expanding. So rapidly has Bangalore been growing that while in 1941 it was the 16th-largest city in India, 10 years later it had moved to the eighth position and by 1971 was seventh. In the past decade, it moved up two notches to stand fifth in the country, next to Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras.This explosion was triggered by the unprecedented development of industries in the city which followed two distinct phases: in the pre-1965 period, the mammoth public sector industries were established and in the post-1970 development, when the state had an abundance of power, it threw the city doors open to entrepreneurs from all over the country. G.V.K. Rao, 62, former chief secretary of the state and member.Renu and George Koshy came to Bangalore six years ago for different reasons. Renu, 32, who works as a schoolteacher in a public school, had fond memories of the city: of its gardens, its cold coffee, an old boy-friend, George, 34, a sales engineer in a cutting tool manufacturing company, was tired of the hustle and bustle of Bombay Neither of them has regretted then decision. Says Renu: “Each one can do their own thing in the city There”‘s so much time here because everything is near and you don’t have to spend two hours reaching your work spot unlike Bombay.” She is helping orphaned children and is currently selling raffle tickets to collect money for their welfare. Renu finds the city growing so fast that “it’s changing from minute to minute and even a tree outside my house seems to grow so quickly”. Both of then, find the house rents too high and she says that to buy a house in Bangalore “you have to be a little millionaire or black marketeer”. George is perturbed by the speed at which Bangalore is growing. Says he: “If it continues like this i’ll clear out.”Planning Commission, and now part of the Janata Government’s “think-tank”, boasts: “Bangalore’s growth is a success story unsurpassed in India. It was a carefully foisted development intended to develop a cosmopolitan attitude. No absolute poverty. No great riches. That was our philosophy for Bangalore.We wanted it to be a city at best of the middle-middle class. No Birlas or Tatas were invited to start industries. We didn’t want big private houses. On the one hand, we wanted big public sector industries. In the private sector we preferred small-scale industries. What we wanted was a professionally competent, managerial class.”Aeronautics Centre: HAL was started by business magnate Walchand Hirachand in 1940 as an overhauling station for British aircraft during the Second World War before the Union Defence Ministry took it over in 1951.Today it has a turnover of Rs 227 crore employing more than 40,000 people, half of them stationed in Bangalore, and has manufactured 2,000 aircaft, apart from designing a dozen of them. The spin-off benefit of having the country’s only aircraft manufacturing corporation has been far-reaching, making Bangalore the key centre for aeronautics in the country.As S.C. Keshu, HAL’s director for planning, puts it: “It was like a flower attracting eminent bees.” It attracted several key aeronautical research institutes such as the National Aeronautical Laboratory, the Aeronautical Development Establishment, the Institute for Aviation Medicine and the Aircrafts and Systems Testing Establishment which recently made news by selecting India’s first cosmonaut.Bangalore’s dust-free climate proved ideal for BEL, which set up its factory in a prisoner of war camp and manufactured initially obsolete microwave equipment. Today it employs 14,000 people and has a turnover of Rs 130 crore. One out of every two TV tubes of the estimated 4 lakh tubes manufactured in the country is made by BEL in its Bangalore factory.Of the total production of 120 million semiconductors BEL manufactures 45 million. Apart from this BEL manufactures X-ray tubes, radars, crystals, and microwave equipment. Says N. Krishnan, BEL’s managing director: “Bangalore has become the nucleus for electronics in India.”Jankidas Kapur, a 70-year-old retired Brigadier who was posted to Bangalore in 1938 as a young lieutenant recalls: “It was a lazy town. It was a you and I place. Everybody knew everyone.” Kapur remembers that life was relaxed and full of sports like hunting and polo and every week-end there was a ball. Everyone had large houses with big gardens and a dozen servants. In fact Kapur used to hunt partridges on the spot where he built his house in Defence Colony. He liked Bangalore so much that he not only came for his honeymoon but in 1970, after his retirement, he decided to settle down here. Being a veterinary doctor, he runs a dog clinic and treats something like 500 dogs and is president of two kennel clubs. Says he: “We pensioners are not wanted in the city any more. We are not part of the mainstream of commercial people. Bangalore has gone away from Bangaloreans.” In the old days they used to laugh when people in other cities used to complain about water or electricity shortages. Now Bangalore has all these ailments. “Prices are so high that no pensioner can afford to stay here,” he complains, “and the climate has changed.”Not only that, 60 per cent of India’s telecommunication equipment is manufactured by public sector giant ITI in its sprawling factory on Old Madras Road. The company’s turnover has grown from an initial turnover of Rs 85 lakh to a phenomenal Rs 157 crore last year, the Bangalore complex accounting for Rs 107 crore.It has become a large multi-unit industrial complex with the production of the entire range of telecommunications equipment spread over nine factories, four of which are located in Bangalore employing 18,400 people. Every two out of three telephone instruments manufactured in the country are made by its Bangalore complex in addition to manufacturing two-thirds of the automatic exchanges and transmission equipment in the country.Big Manufacturer: Making footprints on India’s technological sands since 1953 hmt has grown into one of the world’s largest machine tools manufacturers, exporting to more than 50 countries and has diversified into watch-making with an annual turnover of Rs 300 crore.The Bangalore unit which employs 9,000 people accounts for one-third of its total machine tools production and one-fourth of its watch production. HMT itself controls half the country’s machine tools production and accounts for at least 85 per cent of the total watch production.These massive public sector laid the foundations for Bangalore’s fantastic growth in the ’70s that transformed the pensioner’s paradise into a pulsating industriapolis. The real boom was heralded in 1965 when the state inaugurated the Sharavathy hydroelectric project which was to generate 1,200 mw, increasing Karnataka’s power supply ten-fold by 1972.”We had to industrialise or else power would go waste,” recalls C.S. Seshadri, former managing director of the Karnataka State Finance Corporation, which offered loans at low rates of interest to encourage new industries.Fortunately for Bangalore, it was a time when most of the other industrial citties were passing through a critical phase. The Naxalite movement was gaining strength in Calcutta sending shivers down industrialists’ spines.Bangalore’s building boom: Signs of the timesBombay was saturated and labour was becoming militant. At the same time, Indian industrialists in East Africa were troubled over the Ugandan crisis created by Idi Amin and were looking for a way out. Industrialists searched for greener pastures in south India. Madras was not such a hot proposition, although the weather certainly was, mainly because it had become chauvinistic with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party grabbing power from the Congress. Bangalore was ideal: labour was cheap and docile; power was surplus; land was being sold at throw-away prices; and big public sector industries offered a ready market. “What followed was a deluge,” says Seshadri.New Mecca: Bangalore prepared itself to meet the new flood of industrialists. The state formed the Karnataka Small-Scale Industries Development Corporation (KSSIDC) and the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) to coordinate the growth. The KSSIDC formed the first industrial estate in Rajajinagar, at the northern limits of the city, and completed 116 sheds.It soon had to expand it to a small village called Peenya where another 400 sheds were built. The sheds having a plinth area of 5,000 sq ft were leased out at monthly rents varying from Rs 800 to Rs 1,200. Meanwhile, the KIADB acquired lands in the suburbs of the city and sold it to industrialists at the incredibly low price of Rs 10,000 an acre. Overnight Bangalore became the new Mecca for industrialists.From Calcutta, the Transport Corporation of India (TCI), which was one of the largest transport networks in the country, decided to move its operations out of the state because of the growing Naxalite problem.The Bangalore boom has made the city number one in the country’s racing calendarS.N. Agarwal, 37, a TCI partner, bought 37 acres of land in the Whitefield industrial area and set up a mini steel plant. In the past decade, the steel plant’s turnover has grown from an initial Rs 1.64 crore to Rs 10 crore.From Bombay, A.P. Mehta, 61, a metal merchant, who initially supplied copper and wire rods to ITI, moved to Peenya Industrial Estate, established a cable industry and later diversified into chemicals and dyes. Today his cable industry turnover has leapt from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 crore and the Mehta group of industries has a total turnover of Rs 30 crore.From Nairobi, Gujarati businessman Kakubhai Lakhani, 58, set up a soft drink bottling plant in the Mysore Road industrial estate and is now bottling his own brands successfully. Last year, he was selling eight lakh cases with an estimated turnover of Rs 1.5 crore. Like Lakhani, almost 50 families from East Africa have moved to Bangalore and set up industries ranging from garment exports to plastic ware.Diverse Products: As a result, in the past decade more than 300 medium-scale industries have been established and small-scale industries have jumped from a meagre 802 in 1970 to a phenomenal 10,457 last year accounting for a third of such industries found in the state. In fact the Peenya Industrial Estate, consisting of 1,200 small-scale industries, is the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia.Products as diverse as razor blades, paints, drugs, plastic goods, glass, flooring tiles, batteries, tractors, lubricants, slippers, steel and graphite are being manufactured by the new industries. Already there are eight industrial estates girdling the city and the KSSIDC plans to extend the Peenya Industrial Estate into its third phase, apart from establishing new ones, such as Veerasandra and Yelahanka, both about 15 km from downtown Bangalore.C.R. Nagaraja Setty, 49, is a typical example of the new constructors who have moved into the city with their men, machines and material and altered Bangalore”s skyline with their high-rise apartments. Setty, a civil engineer, used to take up contract work for government public works departments all over the country. He moved to Bangalore three years ago and bought a 24,000 sqft plot of land on Cunningham Crescent Road, one of the prime residential areas in the city at a dirt cheap Rs 25 per sq ft. The same plot of land is now worth Rs 200 a sq ft. Putting up an eight-storey complex, housing 64 apartments, Setty sold them at between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 3 lakh each. He has now bought another plot of land and plans to put up a similar block of apartments. Defending high-rise buildings against the complaints of old Bangaloreans, Setty argues vociferously: “These are not eyesores but a boon to the city and the only way to solve its housing problem.In fact, every day about three small-scale industries come up in Bangalore and two out of three belong to industrialists coming from outside the state. “We are still behind the demand,” said S.R. Vijay, additional secretary for industries, “another 500 applications are pending.”The total work force in the city has grown from one lakh to almost six lakh, making it one-fifth of the total population; most of the unskilled labour comes from neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. In fact every day 10 new jobs are advertised through the employment exchanges in the city and last year a total of 10,094 vacancies were notified by private companies.Migrant Industrialists: Interestingly, two-thirds of the industrialists have come from outside the state. In the Peenya Industrial Estate the percentage-wise break up is: Andhra Pradesh 20, Gujarat 15, Maharashtra 10, Tamil Nadu five, Kerala five, Uttar Pradesh one, Karnataka 35 and the remaining is scattered among the other states.Much of the growth has been possible because of the typical accommodating nature of Bangaloreans who are known for their warmth and docility. Admits Agarwal: “Any other city would have thrown us out, but Bangalore welcomed us with open arms and we have now become part of the city.”While the latest census is still to analyse the languages spoken by the people, in 1971 itself when the flood of immigrants had just begun, only 50 per cent of the population spoke Kannada, the local language. Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Hindi and Malayalam were the other major languages and Gujarati and Bengali were growing in usage.Bangalore’s new found prosperity has spawned a fantastic building boom. To meet the shortage of housing and the demand for commercial establishments, the City Corporation sanctioned more than 180 complexes with an average height of six storeys mostly located in the heart of the city. As a result, the high-rise buildings foisted mainly by fly-by-night Bombay construction companies now dominate the skyline and have replaced almost all the old buildings in the city.K.N. Guruswamy, 83, arrack king and governing director of the Herald group of newspapers, has seen Bangalore grow before his eyes. Born in Bellary 350 km away from Bangalore, Guruswamy came to Bangalore in 1908 when his father took up an arrack contract. He recalls: “It was just like a big village at that time. The city was full of tanks and it used to be much cooler. We used to call it the London cold.” After his father’s death Guruswamy took over the family business and in 1948 bought the Kannada daily Mathrubhumi, which had a circulation of a meagre 1,000, with relatives. Simultaneously he launched the Deccan Herald and its Kannada counterpart Prajavani. Today these papers have become the largest circulated dailies in Bangalore.Concerned about the city’s growth, Guruswamy says: “Now we don’t have the salubrious climate. All trees have been cut and tanks have gone dry.” “But he adds resignedly: “Whether we like it or not the city will continue to grow.”Land prices have shot up phenomenally. In Commercial Street, the city’s premier shopping centre, land was available seven years ago for Rs 40 per sq ft; it has now leapt to Rs 350. On Mahatma Gandhi Road, the city’s showpiece, prices have moved up from Rs 80 per sq ft to Rs 400. In the exclusive Palace Orchards residential area, the site value, which was hovering at Rs 30 per sq ft has now gone up to Rs 190, a 600 percent increase. The new residential areas have not been spared either. and in Indiranagar, Rajajinagar, Koramangala and Jayanagar, where site prices used to average Rs 25 per sq ft, they have now touched Rs 100.Having a farm in the outskirts has become a fashion where film stars seem to be setting the trend. Already Feroz Khan (see box), Dharmendra, Waheeda Rehman and comedian Mehmood have bought land in the suburbs and agricultural land prices are rising rapidly. On the Hosur Road an acre of land used to cost Rs 5,000 about four years ago; today, it is worth Rs 50,000.Land prices along all national highways leading to Bangalore have gone up phenomenally and are between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh an acre. Building prices too have gone up and what used to cost Rs 80 a sq ft has gone up to Rs 225 a sq ft. While five years ago a two-bedroom house could easily be built for Rs 70,000, today the same house would have to be built at a cost of Rs 2.5 lakh.House rents too have shot up and a two-bedroom house in better areas like Indiranagar and Jayamahal Extension now goes for Rs 2,000. In fact a two-bedroom house now averages Rs 1,000 in most areas when hardly six years ago it was Rs 350. In the prime areas, most of the high-rise builders bought up old Victorian houses with large gardens before the prices shot up.Among the few residents who resisted the temptation to sell their house were the three Kothawala sisters who live on Grant Road and have been in Bangalore for the last 25 years. They were offered Rs 7 lakh for their entire house and an apartment in the new complex.Bangalore city centre in 1957 with its old-world charm…… and Bangalore’s main shopping centre today: growing pressuresWhen they refused, they were offered Rs 4 lakh for their garden which they also turned down. Said Nurgesh Kothawala: “Who wants 20 houses, 20 families, 100 children and 20 dogs in the same compound? We want our peace and quiet. We turned down the offer.”Bangalore has been booming in other areas too, like horse-racing for instance. The city which was one of the minor racing centres two decades ago has now emerged as the premier racing city. With races being held eight months a year, the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) conducts the largest number of races in the country and boasts of the highest stake money. Says Kumar Siddanna, chairman, BTC proudly: “We are number one now.”With money flowing in, the hotel industry has been doing roaring business. The cosy coffee houses and clubs have been brushed aside by a host of flashy restaurants serving a variety of cuisines. In the past decade, more than 30 of them have come up and Bombay film stars too have put their hand in the kitty.Amar Lulla, 46, an enterprising Sindhi businessman, has been instrumental in roping them in. To begin with, Lulla tied up with Hindi film villain Amjad Khan and opened what was then considered a fabulously designed restaurant on top of Bangalore’s tallest building – the 24-storeyed public utility complex.Last year, after differences cropped up between them, Lulla sold his shares to Khan and with Sanjeev Kumar opened a lavish restaurant on Brigade Road which also houses the city’s only recognised disco. Says Lulla: “Business is so good in Bangalore that any good restaurant can easily get a large clientele.”All the leading hotel chains in the country are moving into Bangalore to cash in on the boom. India Tourism Development Corporation’s Hotel Ashok (187 rooms) set the trend in 1971. This prompted Spencer’s West End Hotel (140 rooms) to upgrade its services to meet the new challenge.The latest extravaganza has been Welcomgroup’s Windsor Manor (140 rooms), which has a Victorian facade designed in keeping with Bangalore’s past. While the Taj group has almost completed its unit on Mahatma Gandhi Road (180 rooms), the Oberois have purchased land and are likely to set up the hotel soon. M.D. Narayan, 54, former MP and coffee planter was aghast when he found two eight-storey apartment houses coming up on either side of his magnificent house which has a swimming pool and garden. Said he: “My privacy was invaded.” Raj Mahal Vilas Extension is considered Bangalore’s most affluent residential area, and residents were shocked when high-rise builders moved in.Along with three neighbours, Narayan filed a writ petition in the high court against the Bombay-based Bakhtawar Construction Company (BCC) on the ground that it had violated zonal regulations for residential areas. Last June the high court quashed the licences issued to BCC by the city corporation as they contravened the city’s outline development plan. The judgement, however, came after the builders had constructed the apartments and now some owners have gone on appeal to the Supreme Court. Till the Supreme Court delivers judgement, Narayan has to tolerate the invasion of his privacy, especially when he has a swim or takes a walk in his spacious grounds.Bangalore has also come to be regarded as a conference city with more than 100 business houses and institutions holding their annual meetings in these hotels every year. Says Colonel N.S. Uthaya, general manager, Ashok Hotel: “Initially we used to get only a tourist crowd, but now most of them are businessmen. We hold a major conference in our hotel almost every month.”With the huge influx of migrant population, films have become possibly the most popular form of entertainment in the city. The number of theatres has grown from hardly 12 in 1970 to 100. In the heart of the city the 500 metre-long Kempe Gowda Road now has 22 theatres in its vicinity.Indicative of the cosmopolitan culture is the fact that Kannada films play second fiddle to the rest of the language films with English, Hindi, Telugu and Tamil dominating.Newspapers and periodicals too have been flourishing and in the last six years the city has acquired two new dailies – The Times of Deccan and Southern Speaker and two weekly magazines – City Tab and Sunday Midday. The Times of India group plans to launch a daily soon. But last fortnight the Speaker wound up.Deccan Herald, the oldest English newspaper in the city, has doubled its circulation in the city and now prints 80,000 copies every morning. It plans to launch an eveninger soon and K.N. Hari Kumar, managing director, says: “It’s a new vibrant city and our profits and sales have been increasing rapidly.”Despite their accommodating nature old Bangaloreans are disconcerted by the change sweeping over the city as a result of the host of new migrants with their disparate backgrounds and the money they bring in. Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde, who built his house in an exclusive residential area in the city 10 years ago, is unhappy with the way Bangalore’s essential character has been transformed.Says he: “Earlier it was a small city and there was a traditional touch and warmth even in the coffee that was served in hotels. It was such a cosy city. Everybody who was somebody knew everybody else who was somebody. But today it looks as if citizens of Bangalore are strangers to each other. The city has become impersonal and there is an attitude of unconcern. In the new city I find a clash between values. It is in the throes of giving birth to a new culture and character for Bangalore.”Bhushan Oberoi runs a tiny fast-food restaurant with cane chairs in the basement floor of a five-storeyed building on the busy Residency Road, serving pizzas, hamburgers and salads. “We wanted to make a little Italy here,” explained its 38-year-old proprietor. Five years ago Oberoi and his Austrian wife, Marieluise, gave up their lucrative jobs as catering managers in multinational hotels abroad and came to the city. Explains Oberoi: “It was like seeing a child growing from an adolescent to a man. Right now, Bangalore is at the prime of its life.” And with Bangalore growth, the Oberois` business too has expanded and they have not only extended their restaurant but also started a boutique. Marieluise likes Bangalore because she thinks ifs more of a “Western city” than an Indian one, but she is disappointed that it is fast becoming a “dirty city in an un-Indian way”. She finds the city’s ill-planned growth reflected in trees being cut indiscriminately, increasing traffic and clogged sewage systems. Complains, Marieluise: “Right now the pollution is so high that it’s much healthier to breathe through a cigarette.”The juicy apple is already beginning to spoil in parts. Despite the flurry of construction activity, the population growth has been so phenomenal that the city still faces a tremendous housing shortage. According to conservative estimates by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), the city is short of 88,000 houses.”Bangalore is stifling us,” complains use Director P.amaseshan. He points out that one of the main reasons that most scientists flocked to Bangalore was the supposedly low cost of living, but today none of them can survive with the high house rents. For the poor. Bangalore houses are out of sight and as a result almost 173 slums have come up higgledy piggledy in the city.Inadequate Amenities: The meagre civic amenities are already buckling under the pressure of the city’s intense growth. The Bangalore Transport Corporation (BTC) with its fleet of 840 buses is bursting at the seams and continues to lose heavily. Last year, it lost at the rate of Rs 1.5 lakh a day with its yearly loss totalling Rs 3 crore.BTC officials estimate that they need at least another 100 buses to meet the demand. Also in trouble are the City Corporation and the Water Board. Bangalore is fast becoming a garbage city with the 6,000 sweepers unable to clear the tonnes of rubbish that pile on the streets every day. So much so that the corporation plans to hire another 5,000 sweepers to keep the city clean.Water has become scarce and long queues can be seen at water taps every day. The Water Board is able to assure a four-hour water supply daily. Bangalore has the lowest per capita consumption of 80 litres of water a day in the country in comparison to most cities which average 120 litres.Troubled Police: Equally gloomy are the city police who have been facing mounting problems in controlling traffic and preventing crime. The number of vehicles on the road have shown a 400 per cent increase from 51,000 in 1971 to its present size of two lakh. As a result, accidents have also doubled and every day there is one fatal and 12 serious accidents in the city.On the seamier side, crime has gone up; murders have trebled and thefts have more than doubled. Last year, there were 8,554 thefts and 63 murders committed in the city. Prostitution, which used to flourish in a few lodges, has come out on the streets; women can be seen openly soliciting customers. The number of cabarets, most of them in seedy joints, have increased from hardly two in the ’70s to 10 today.The state already faces a disastrous power situation. When the Janata Government took charge last January, it immediately introduced a 50 per cent power cut on industries using high tension power and placed a ceiling limit on power to other industries. Karnataka was already facing a power shortage of 10 to 33 per cent in the various sectors.The small-scale industries, which face a 25 per cent power cut, have been badly hit. Last fortnight, the Peenya Industries Association submitted a white paper to the Government on its woes. The association estimated that of the 1,200 industries almost 200 industries face imminent closure which may result in 4,000 workers getting laid off if the power situation does not improve.The total loss facing the industrialists is Rs 2.20 crore. Warns Vishnu Mathur, president of the association: “If the power situation does not ease, industrial activity in Peenya will be completely crippled.”But with power and water becoming scarce, Bangalore is already losing the charm which initially attracted so many industrialists. The older private companies like Motor Industries Company (MICO), Kirloskars and Amco Batteries are unhappy with the way Bangalore has been allowed to grow, MICO, which was set up under German collaboration in 1951, now controls 90 per cent of the spark-plug and fuel injection pump industry in the country.To meet the shortage it has installed generators which meet 50 per cent of its power requirements and dug borewells to supply one third of its water needs. Says Vikram Bhat, 48, MICO’s commercial director: “There’s no point in allowing Bangalore to grow without developing infrastructure facilities.”Complains S.G. Ramachandra, 58, who was till recently senior vice-president, Kirloskar group of industries: “Infrastructure facilities’ have never kept pace with industrial growth in the city. We are caught in a fix. The demand for energy is growing faster than the supply being made by the Electricity Board. I think we have lost the battle in Bangalore. We may be heading for disaster.”The Town Planning Department is more than disraught with the phenomenal growth of Bangalore which busted its carefully laid plans for the city. Although it chalked out an Outline Development Plan for the city as early as 1962 and followed it up with a Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) in 1976, neither of these anticipated the population explosion. The CDP had estimated that the population would grow from 16.54 lakh in 1971 to 22 lakh in 1981, and to 29 lakh in 1991; by 2001 it would touch a maximum of 38 lakh. But with the city growing so rapidly, the population is likely to exceed 38 lakh by the end of the decade itself.It anticipated a housing shortage of 83,880 in 1991 but by 1981 itself the city had touched the figure. In 1974 industries occupied 1,805 hectares of land or 11 per cent of the total area: by 1980 the Government had developed 6,000 hectares more for industries, half the planned figure for industrial growth to be touched by 2001.As a result, the BDA now has to revise its development plans which had become outdated within a span of five years. Says the gaunt T.M. Malaviah, town planning director: “It’s baffling. The rate at which Bangalore is growing, we have to race to keep our civic services of the same standard.”BUAC’s Parthasarathy is more blunt when he says: “Bangalore’s growth has been a result of a confused concentration of adhocism continuously embarrassing a grand design which is often recognised by default.”Development Dilemma: With the planning going awry, the future city of India faces a bleak future if it is unable to pull up its bootstraps. As G.V.K. Rao puts it: “Bangalore is like a man grown too fat. The dilemma faced by planners is how to slim it down without killing the city.” The planners’ efforts to establish satellite towns in nearby Kengeri and Yelahanka to ease the pressure on the city have failed miserably with Bangalore unable to cut the “umbilical cord” for civic amenities.As a result, these towns have become newer extensions of Bangalore city. In a bid to solve the city’s headaches, the state Government recently formed the Bangalore Metropolitan Development Council, which has representatives of all departments concerned with the city’s development, so that the city may be planned in a coordinated manner.Meanwhile, the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, an advisory council to the Government, plans to undertake a detailed study of Bangalore’s growth and suggest ways out of the imbroglio.Right now Bangalore’s fantastic growth has caught the planners on the wrong foot and everyone is busy fire-fighting with no one daring to think of Bangalore in 2001 A.D. The planners are trying to work out a solar system concept with Bangalore as the sun and self-sufficient industrial townships within a radius of 50 km to 100 km to be developed as ‘planets’.As a move in this direction the Government has already banned new large-scale industries from coming to the city and has announced that no more incentives would be given for medium and small-scale industries to start units within the city limits. The Janata Government plans to select areas like Channapatna, Maddur, Dodballapur, Ramnagaram and Tumkur, which are within a radius of 50 km to 100 km from Bangalore and develop them as wholly self-sufficient townships.Meanwhile, to meet the housing shortage, new extensions are to be chalked out at the suburbs and high-rise buildings would be allowed to be built in these places while tall structures would be banned in the core of the city.The Government plans to have a green belt around the city by planting 75 lakh trees. The Government is now studying a new set of building bye-laws which have been drafted by the city corporation and is likely to pass it soon.According to the new bye-laws Bangalore would be divided into three zones: the central administrative area, the intensely populated business areas and the newer extensions. In the central administrative area consisting of the Vidhana Soudha as its core and a radius of 1.6 km from it no building would be allowed to go more than four floors and all structures would have to be cleared by the Urban Arts Commission so as to “preserve the architectural beauty of the area”.In the intensely populated areas consisting mainly of the old fort business streets like Chickpet, Nagarthpet, Cubbonpet and Balepet, which already are highly congested, no building would be allowed to go more than two floors.In the new extensions like Rajajinagar, Hosahalli, Indiranagar, Jayanagar, Banashankari, Koramangala and Ganganahalli, which are all within 10 km of the central area, buildings would be allowed to rise up to seven floors but strict laws are to be laid down to ensure that there would be adequate set-backs so that these areas wouldn’t become congested like the older ones.If these new bye-laws are passed and enforced strictly Bangalore would still be allowed to grow but in a more orderly fashion while retaining its old world charm. It would be the hub of industrial activity without really being smogged down.As Chief Minister Hegde says: “If immediate action is taken to control the crazy, unplanned growth of the city it would be possible to make this city liveable. Otherwise it may go the way of other big cities. We must regulate Bangalore’s growth.” Or else if Bangalore continues to explode haphazardly the boom that brought it so much prosperity may easily be the kiss of death.