[Urbanstudy] Fwd: Whitefield express? - Bangalore Mirror

ESG India esgindia at gmail.com
Thu May 11 00:05:16 CDT 2017


> Few will remember the unprecedented and valiant struggles of Mr. C J Singh, a resident of Whitefield, Bangalore's software hub, who spared no effort to bring to everyone's attention the nightmare that would result in the area because of the reckless nature of "development" of software tech parks and of apartments and malls.
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> Mr. Singh's simple case was that a massive apt complex was approved in the village he lived in, and that too only with a bullock cart road as access. And this was representative of much of the "development" taking place in the area and all to turn it into a "world class hub" of software industry.
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> Mr Singh came and met us in ESG sometime in 2005, asking what we could do to help his cause.  We explained to him that the entire project was violative of various laws and norms that govern planned development and require public involvement.  In particular we explained the importance of reading together the import of Town and Country planning process, and EIA Notification, which requires large "area development projects" must be submitted to public review before deciding on its worthiness of securing town planning and environmental clearances.  Bhargavi, Mallesh and I visited the area often, and also ensured Statutory Environmental Hearings were held properly, a rare occurrence at that time.
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> Mr Singh kept in touch with us, contributed generously to ESG's public interest litigation initiatives, and was a very energetic supporter, despite his advanced age, to ESG's public campaigns against reckless urbanisation. Very few in Whitefield area supported his struggles, unfortunately. Perhaps no one understood what he was saying?
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> His work is amongst the most meticulous public interest efforts that I have ever seen. It involves working from the ground up: Tahsildhar, DC, SEIAA, TCP Dept, BDA, BMRDA, and also in the High Court and SC.  And he had absolutely no training in law, or planning, or sociology or ecology. Yet, he made his points borrowing from the fundamental precepts of these subjects and with a finesse that would beat a scholar, never mind the language not being scholarly enough. (See: http://mail.sarai.net/pipermail/urbanstudygroup_mail.sarai.net/2007-November/003202.html)
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> All Mr Singh argued about was that the apt complex is illegal as it flouted all norms of planning, environmental and public health considerations were not even considered, and this exposed all residents to unacceptable risks in perpetuity. He illustrated his worries too.  Say, for instance, fire engines or ambulances cannot access the apt complexes in a fire emergency (a matter of concern here as the apt is for senior citizens and assisted living).  Besides, such high density cluster development, without understanding and addressing impacts on the neighbourhood, would result in a colossal and every day damage to public health and environment. 
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> Environment because the sewage and other material fallout of dense cluster development, would irreversibly affect lakes and other open spaces.  Public health because of traffic congestion and resultant consequences: air pollution and noise that results from having a low density rural neighbourhood forced, illegally and undemocratically, to transform into one filled with high income folks with their multiple demands on infrastructure designed to support rural and, at best, suburban living.
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> Everything Mr Singh fought to stop in Whitefield has come true now.  The same is the case pretty much everywhere else in Peru urban Bangalore or Chennai or Hyderabad or Guwahati.  (And we speak for 'smart cities'?)
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> Mr Singh is really old, and not doing well now.  Most Whitefield residents will not remember him.  Even though I am not a resident of the area, I keep in touch with Mr Singh. 
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> I truly wish everyone paid attention to Mr Singh's arguments, that he advanced over a decade ago, and continued to persist on, despite most unhelpful foras to advance his logic, Courts included, until his health failed him.    If only many others had paid attention to the minutiae in Mr Singh's arguments, then what I now read in this article would never have been necessary, and the "techie" doing exercises in a taxi to stay fit and stress free would have been so unnecessary.  (This "techie" is a new species or what? Is there something equivalent called "carpentech", "Pourakarmikie", "accountech", for those professions not getting the necessary attention, unless an "ie" suffix is added?) 
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> If Whitefield folks are interested in learning more about Mr Singh's monumental work, I can share it in a discussion.  I believe it has many lessons for us, in dealing with our current situation.
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> Thanks for reading this long note.  
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> https://www.google.co.in/amp/bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/bangalore/civic/whitefield-express/amp_articleshow/58617633.cms
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