BANGALORE: Smart growth is the buzzword for cities struggling to overcome the horrors of urban sprawl. ‘New guard’ urban planners at the Rio de Janeiro United Nations Conference on Environment and Development while accepting that growth and development would continue to occur, sought to put in place sustainable communities that are good places to live, to do business, to work, and to raise families. The aim was to facilitate residents’ access to quality education to livable, safe and healthy places and stimulate economic activity.
Remarkably, these are the very parameters that are powering North Bangalore. Not since the introduction of software industry and the resultant emergence of Electronics City has any economic activity so recharged Bangalore as the new international airport at Devanahalli.
But what’s working for North Bangalore is that the social infrastructure – good schools and hospitals – had started emerging in this area even before the airport came up. The main draw was the availability of large parcels of land at cheap rates. Many of these schools now top national lists and are, in many cases, the first choice preference of even third and fourth-generation Bangaloreans.
“The decisive difference is that in all other areas, including Electronics City, the localities sprung up first and the connectivity to the localities came limping along much later,” said V S Surendar, joint MD of Standard Brick and Tiles Company which has entered into a joint development with RMZ Corp to convert a major part of their sprawling facility off the Bangalore International Airport road in Yelahanka into a bouquet of mall, multiplex, hotel, office space and residential complex.
Arjun Menda, group chairman of RMZ Corp was emphatic when he said that in five years the centre of the city would gravitate towards North Bangalore. “We saw this happening in Mumbai when the focus of activity shifted from Central Mumbai to the Kurla-Bandra region. In Bangalore too, far flung areas like Whitefield and Banashankari are bound to lose out. They are far from the airport and road connectivity is choked,” he says.