Every city has its own unique characteristics, and Belagavi is no exception. As one of India’s oldest Metros, we are situated amidst three distinct states, each with its own identity, which has influenced and shaped our unique Belagavi culture. We have embraced the best of all three states while preserving our own identity, resulting in a fascinating cultural amalgamation that is reflected in the way we shop.
However, despite our potential to become a great cosmopolitan city, Belagavi has been neglected by the government authorities, who seem to treat it like an orphaned child. While smaller cities with proper urban planning have surged ahead, Belagavi’s growth has been hampered by the lack of planning. Even the citizens’ efforts to improve the city are often thwarted by the authorities.
Urban planning is a crucial aspect of any city’s development, and Belagavi is no exception. Unfortunately, it seems that the administration here has never even heard of the term. Urban planning involves the preparation of plans for and the regulation and management of towns, cities, and metropolitan regions. It aims to organize sociospatial relations across different scales of government and governance.
BUDA, the organization entrusted with this task, has failed to perform its duties for years. It has not even been able to create a master plan once in a decade. What Belagavi needs is proper urban planning, not just town planning. The Local Planning Area (LPA) of Belagavi consists of 27 revenue villages and covers an area of 191.86 sq km. It was notified by the government in November 1965, and the local planning area boundary was extended to include Shaganmatti and Bastwad villages on 05.07.2012.
Widening roads alone is not a solution to the traffic problem. Sustainable living is the key, but it is often overlooked by implementing authorities. While compensation is a good start, authorities tend to ignore this and end up in legal battles for years.
The lack of coordination is another issue that plagues Belagavi. One authority constructs a road, and within a week, it is dug up, causing inconvenience to the public. This is a recurring problem that needs to be addressed.
Traffic management is also a result of the lack of coordination. The police are not aware of which roads are dug up, and when there is a traffic jam, they make alternative arrangements without considering the future consequences. For instance, at Third Gate, if someone in a car wishes to go to Bhagya Nagar, they have to take the Second Gate, then go to Basveshwar Circle, then Shahpur, Hindwadi, and finally Bhagya Nagar, as PWD has been making concrete roads for the past three months.
In Belagavi, anyone who blocks the road does not inform the traffic authorities, resulting in chaos. The police love barricades, and they pop up anywhere, causing sudden traffic blocks, even confusing Google Maps. One-way and wrong-side riding is common in Belagavi, but the police only catch offenders at traffic signals and with those CCTVs.
Citizen involvement in Belagavi is unfortunately non-existent. This is not due to any fault of their own, but rather because approaching any authority with suggestions is met with alienation. Unlike other cities that have ward committees, Belagavi has yet to adopt this practice. However, cities that involve citizens in planning initiatives at an early stage can benefit greatly from their suggestions and concerns, ultimately leading to fewer public objections and legal disputes.
Regardless of the political party, citizens who are aware of their rights and duties can hold the system accountable. However, in Belagavi, there are issues that take precedence over improving the city, such as language and religion.
It is crucial for citizens to recognize the importance of their involvement in the planning and development of their city. By working together with authorities, they can create a better future for themselves and future generations. Let us strive towards a more inclusive and collaborative approach to city planning in Belagavi.