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Livable Lovable Belgaum

belagavi

This is the first article in the series of articles in which we will give an emphasis on what Belgaum needs for its development under the banner of BelgaumNext.

Belgaum Next is a people’s endeavor to bridge the gap between good and bad governance on the strength of an open citizen’s platform and is steered by passionate people from across Industry, government, academia and other organizations. The platform stands for one voice that is focused on one agenda: the all round development of our city. Where every voice has weight and no idea is considered too small.

Livable, Lovable Belgaum

Bella Vista Belagavi

by Dr.Nitin Khot

Belgaum was a small town nestling high in the Western Ghats, famous for its equable climate, pure water, rich milk and butter– that the British developed into a hill station.

Serving as a first destination for both British civilian and military personnel coming to a hot, tropical country that had many incurable diseases, Belgaum was systematically laid out with a vast Cantonment (of 1776 acres) and a town municipality.

So successful was the development of Belgaum as an educational, industrial, medical centre that it began to attract people from nearby areas and its population swelled from about a lakh in 1941 to 6,29,600 in 2001. Belgaum became one of the most livable cities in this part of the country.

However, rapid urbanization creates its own problems – putting pressure on inadequate infrastructural facilities and a fragile ecological base. As various groups struggle for competitive advantage and preferential access to a limited bundle of goods and services, the quality of life begins to deteriorate.

Caught as it has historically been at the intersection of ambitions of conflicting kingdoms or states, Belgaum has had an additional set of woes added to the basic problem of insufficiency. For decades after independence it has suffered from ‘benign neglect’.

It is to address these issues frontally and to chart out a sustainable development path for the city with a vision of atleast 15 years that a Symposium is being held on July 2010.

The areas of key concern that will be addressed initially are;

1. Water augmentation of supplies and efficient distribution.
2. Power quality of, and severance from its carbon base.
3. Solid waste Management Present issues, solutions and public awareness
4. Transportation and Traffic Flow Development of Hub and Spoke model for roads, and improvement of public and mass transit system.
5. Infrastructure to attract investments planning and creation of basic infrastructure to attract investments for employment generating industries in areas where Belgaum has inherent advantages.
6. Urban Renewal Remodeling and Beautification of the City.
7. Planning sustainable neighborhoods new and evolving systems in town planning on a sustainable model.
8. Public Participation in development and decision making process

Our group has decided to restrict its initial efforts to just these five areas.

  1. Water: The story of Belgaum’s efforts to deliver water to its rapidly increasing population has been widely appreciated around the country – with the Ministry of Urban Development, New Delhi, conferring upon Belgaum two prestigious awards in 2008 and 2009.

Alone amongst all the cities in India, Belgaum has tapped its aquifers to lift, purify and supply water daily to as many as 1,60,000 people (or over one third of its central population). This effort received the Urban Water Award at Hyderbad in May 2008.

In 2009, the Ministry lauded the 24/7 water supply scheme of Belgaum that has achieved a success rate of 95% – which no other urban 24/7 water supply scheme could reach.

The only problem of success is that it raises expectations – and all now expect more innovative water management practices from Belgaum.

We have thus decided to propose two thrust areas in this field – a rapid extension of the area where water harvesting in practiced – starting with all government buildings. The total roof area of government buildings will be calculated and the percentage of roof area where rain water is harvested will be worked out and increased each year.

We also wish to support with our efforts a rapid expansion of the two Demo Zones (covering 10 wards) of the 24/7 schemes – till it reaches 100%. We, expect that the Defence Ministry will join this scheme throughout the vast Cantonment of Belgaum.

2. Power: Karnataka faces a chronic shortage (of about 2000 MW in 2009 which it bought from other States for Rs. 2000 crores). The power deficit has worsened in 2010 with the State already having purchased 1000 MW till March 2010 and about 750 MW each month since.

Belgaum’s power consumption is growing rapidly. Vast areas of our industrial areas and our people will be ‘powerless’ for extended periods of time. There will be loss of productivity and an increase in cost, which will cost Belgaum the competitive edge in many of its manufactured products.

To tackle this basic problem we propose ‘energy parks’ to be set up close to industrial areas so that alternative sources of renewable energy can be harnessed.

It is the resolve of our Group to help Belgaum reduce its carbon footprint from year to year and to help the aggregation and sale of carbon credits.

With an assured 286 days of solar insolation reaching Belgaum annually. Solar Energy has to be assigned cardinal priority we, hopefully, might be able to establish a Collective Solar Power Station functioning here in the near feature.

3.Transport and Traffic Flows: Belgaum’s roads bear all the marks of a city that has evolved, rather than been established and hence are narrow and circuitous. Bottlenecks have developed all over the city. There is a colossal waste of both petrol and time – both very precious resources.

Many arterial roads need to be widened and encroachments removed – without fear or favour. Some roads need to be designated as ‘arterial roads’ and special regulations need to be enacted to keep them free of obstruction. The ‘circumferential road’ needs to be developed to its full width as fast as possible. Besides this we endorse the ‘hub and spoke’ model of road layout for the City and its outlying areas with a ‘Mudrika’ bus service plying on the Ring Road. Eventually a light railway track will have to be laid along side the Ring Road.

4. Employment Generating Industry Matrix: one of the sadder aspect of living in Belgaum is the fact that its most talented youth have to seek employment in the first tier cities – leaving behind their ageing parents.

Belgaum, possibly alone in Karnataka has developed exceptional industrial expertise in certain fields like casting, crankcase and crank-shaft, and gear manufacturing, and has several medium industries who are original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to reputable automobile and motorcycle manufacturers in Pune.

We also have high quality vehicle body building units.

From here it is one small step to attracting a complete vehicle manufacturing establishment to Belgaum. We already have one of the country’s largest aerospace SEZ’s in Belgaum and we feel that a car manufacturing facility will develop some synergies with this SEZ.

We expect such units to expand the employment potential of Belgaum considerably.

5. Beautification: The quality of life afforded by a city to its citizens depends to a large measure on its aesthetic appeal. Broad, tree-lined avenues, fountains, parks and monuments, lakes and small water bodies need to be developed across the city and we intend to request local architects to develop plans to beautify individual localities.

About the author:

Dr. Nitin G. Khot, an economist  (from the London School of Economics) and Delhi School of Economics, an environmentalist and a social activist.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent Nitin:
    Many thanks for having put up all about Belgaum. Very informative. You may like to add on about Shir K G Kadekodi with his (a) philatelic collections (b) numismatic collections (c) antic collections, all in Belgaum!

    All the best to Kao, Koo and all of you.
    Savita and Gopal

  2. Hello Nitin uncle,

    great initiative, and it is indeed absolute pride and pleasure in reading about Belgaum.

    I am sure lot may have been already achieved. all the best.

    thank you, Avadhoot Deshpande.

  3. Dear Sir,
    I am Manu (Male, Age 38), I am working as lecturer in Australia. I am qualified Bio-technology academician with PhD from reputed Mysore University (2008.I am Indian and born in Bangalore. I am finding difficult cope with poor income against high inflation. I would like to explore possible career opportunity in teaching in Belgaum city. Presuming that, I will have a faculty job in KLE University; am I able to cope with migration & settling into 2-tier city. In the long run – my decision to settle in 2-tier city is acceptable to my wife and my loving kid? Am I ruining my family sentiment/emotions dragging them to live with me in a 2-tier city? I may get faculty positions in 1st tier city, but salary may not be sufficient to live worthy life in Bangalore, besides, life in Bangalore is suffocating due to traffic snarls, water scarcity, high rentals, long commuting time, expensive education..what not…

    In Australia faculties are not well paid and end of the day home is home!!

    I request your suggestions.

    Thanks in advance,
    Manu, MM

  4. Dear Dr Nitin,
    Excellent efforts are being made by you to put Belgaum problems before the Govt. and citizens of Belgaum.
    There are two issues.
    One is, every citizen of the city should try to get these two roads put in execution without any delay and next is quality of the execution should be as per standard prescribed in the tender. Promise of world class standard should come into reality. I suggest, ABB has to be watch dog to see the standard is maintained. Looting in any form at any level has to be exposed. Hope Govt. will solve the problems of acquisition on war footing.
    One more road has struck to my mind, Samadevi Galli (IDBI Corner) to CBT. That road is equally important to reach CBT faster to all residents staying in North-West Belgaum, coupled with promotion of business and trade in Belgaum city.

    The reader can refer to the following link for more details of these projects in Karnataka.
    Road planning in cities: How Bangalore needs to learn from the West – Economic Times

    After reading this link, multiple questions arise to my mind about its execution and whether we have got that expertise to handle such projects.
    However, we have to be optimistic.
    Cheers
    sdchaugule October 3, 2012

  5. Except for the carbon credit scheme which is based on global warming which now a proven fraud everything else seems in the right direction more or less. The simplest thing is to encourage more private investments into belgaum and less interference from the government. Asking for state funds comes at cost of more bureaucracy and more corruption.
    Contrary to popular belief there is NO shortage of water or power supply.The problem is that these resources are controlled by state government whose very blood consists of ineptness.Privatise all infrastucture and you will NEVER have shortage problems.

  6. Nitin Mama:

    It is with a lot of pride that I read this post. I learnt al ot of Belguam from you. Belgaum holds a speacial place in all our lives.

    Janaki Rege Catanzarite

  7. Hello uncle Nitin,
    Its nice to see the initiative you have been taking on Belgaum and its infrastructure. Its so important to have social activist like yourself truly committed in raising social awareness to these issues. A well written article.
    Regards
    Gillian (Sydney)

  8. Excellent initiative by Dr Khot. 1st of all we should get rid of the city councilars. There should be partisian system and no interference by any political parties at all period no ifs and buts. Each councilar shoud be elected on thier merit-education, profession etc not an uneducated person who does not know nothing about city needs. They shud have regular council meetings etc open to the public and open debate. If the elected officials dont perform good then dont elect them next time. This will be a perfect example for the MLA's and MP's. Some one give an example what the heck has MP's have ever done to the city other than being corrupt? They dont have any broad mindedness at all just plain old selfish nature.
    Thats my one paisa feedback.

    Cheers
    Jaydev

  9. This is an initiative whose time has come.

    There is simple things the ordinary people can do to keep the town beautiful and clean. First is to realize that our town is not a dustbin. I was on a holiday and living in Jadhav Nagar. I noticed that the Belgaum municipality had hired a boy who came every morning to pick up waste. However instead of giving him the waste some folks cooly sauntered to the open space opposite our house and dumped their garbage there.

    The green open meadow is now a stagnant recipient of garbage, fluttering plastic bags, abandoned building material and a godown for all unused material.

    How can we let this happen? It is a very simple matter and only if the rich folk who live around this verdant land understand the importance of proper waste management, no initiative by anyone can help.

    This is a social issue which every school, college, NGO, Lions, Rotary, should take up and educate the people around.

    In all these years that i have visited my hometown I have never seen so much of plastic flying around. Its a shame.

    Change it people. Make our town the cleanest in India.

  10. I really appreciate Dr. N.G Khot mentioned some good suggestions above! These are the core issues which very well known by Govt. official & Elected Politicians. Some have mentioned because of Border Dispute BGM development is not at his best. But why we forget, Belgaum have 2 elected MLA’S & MP and Municipal Corporation & other Govt. offices what they are doing for BGM development just eating sanctioned money from state govt. If it is so, then who will take responsibility for BGM development. These politician and govt. officials have personal conflicts then tell me what will be the development ratio. Example, Have we not seen, what happened during expansion of roads, where it has been expanded and where it is not because of political power. Issues & Despite are within ourselves unless we Belgaum people don’t come under one roof and raise our voice for the development of BGM & elect proper personnel till then its hard to believe that top official will listen into our problems. For development of Belgaum come together then see these deaf & dumb official & Politicians how they will listen to our Problem & how BGM development.

    Reply

  11. Mr. CM Yedurappa will develop SHIMOGA on lines of this vision. Forget him.

    Whatever Mr. Khot and Belgaum next is doing is great so, go on…. Belgaumites with you. Great Mr. Khot

  12. Thanks for the seemingly practical and broad vision that you have shared Dr.Khot.
    It’s a wish of mine and am sure of thousands others that this movement doesn’t get politicized. I believe that it would be the 40% advancement in this endeavor if everyone starts being a bit selfish for the sake of Belgaum and think more of its development then trying to dream/retain it being a part of some province.
    One thing to add to your analysis Dr.Khot, I think some prime importance has to be given to the development of core market area. To be specific Raviwar Peth, Khade Bazaar, Maruti/Ganapti Galli and nearby places.
    As I have witnessed all my childhood, these areas have tremendous trading volumes and there a huge scope to grow further and take on neighboring cities in the same game.

  13. A nice one Dr. Khot. Really appreciate it.

    I feel and beleive this forum is on the right path and in able hands, to make the city we all love, the most livable.

    First and foremost thing we got to do is, we got to keep the below HONEST;

    Government officials, bureaucracy, local politicians (all levels).

    Dishonesty of the above so called public servants is the plague of the era for the society we are living in. Health of our Belgaum (for that matter any city in India) depends on how fast and effectively we eradicate this social menace.

    Keeping them HONEST is such a necessity today, it has become more of a right now. And as it always has been, we got to strive to get it. We got to use the RIT to its fullest. A qualified representitive of Belgaum Next needs to be present in all the infrastructural building efforts of Government like roads etc. to make sure, quality material and work is taking place.

    Got to keep them HONEST ‘coz it is also future of our younger generation, if we don’t do it, who else will? When intention is just, honest and not selfish, and if it is going to benefit and touch the lives of each and every Belgauite in a positive way, we got to do it no matter what.

    The road is challenging but at the same time exciting, we got to involve our school/college going generation and arrange meetings/shows with them to create the awareness and importance of making this city and its citizens what they truly deserve and also our rights as a citizen. Our boys and girls need to be part of this keeping then HONEST campaign and in a way this has to become part and way of life for all the Belgauites to keep up with the sustained & quality growth of the city.

    Thanks Uday and All the Belgaum Next ‘ites’, for your endeavor in making our loved city a great place to live and also trying to keep the so called public servants turned corrupt money making parasites HONEST. (that money belongst to us the tax payers).

    Belgaum Next is a silver lining and a ray of hope, let’s keep it alive and we will not rest until we reach it’s goal.

  14. In my priorities…

    1. Reduce the effect of global warming. Belgaum is well known for its pleasant climate throughout the year, but the last few years, summers (March through June) have been warmer than usual. Don't cut the existing trees..and plant more trees.. as rainy season has kicked off…

    2. Water problems: Rakascope reservoir needs to be cleaned so that it can store water to it's full capacity. Belgaum has plenty of water wells so more emphasis should be provided on rain water harvesting to increase the underground water levels.

    3. Cleanliness – Waste management

    4. Electricity & Renewable energy – Solar

    5. Traffic management

    6. Employment

  15. I Strongly feel for the above problems the root cause is the border issue. Due to some crap political parties there has been always problem/Fights. Till this is solved nothing can be done. People of belgaum should become more matured and stop supporting those local political parties.

  16. our town already has the 'beauty' aspect…but the cleanliness aspect ignored by the BMC causes a huge problem and is currently being faced in regard to public health and sanitation…this is an excellent thought process…way to go guys

  17. I feel the first thing needed to be done is waste management .. the dirt causes lots of diseases and is very unhygenic !! Cleaner belgaum will pave way for bigger things which have already started thanks to you guys .. Good work brothers ..

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