First published: June 2012
With very little open spaces available, it was imperative that the city expanded on its outskirts. From Ganeshpur, Nanawadi, Krishi colony, Peeranwadi, the city has spread its tentacles far and wide. But where are the amenities required to sustain such an expansion?
Many residential areas still lack basic infrastructure like drainage, drinking water supply, waste disposal and roads. The people of Belagavi are known to be extremely tolerant towards the lax attitude of the political leaders whose apathy towards the development of the city, has, over the years, resulted in Belagavi becoming a massive village.
All rhetoric of it being a booming metro city falls flat with the lack of basic infrastructure. If demolishing habitats and widening roads is the limit for the politician’s idea of development, then we are still in the primitive stage. Can we, as citizens of a beautiful and developing city, not expect certain amenities that will boost development even further?
Roads– Most of us have had a hell-of-a-ride on the stretch Dharmveer Sambaji Circle. All cosmetic decoration done for the VKS disappeared when various departments dug out the roads with a vengeance and forgot to make amends for the same. Sometimes we feel the old narrow road was better. This road links half of the city to the Business District, and has the ill-fate of being the worst one in the city. Roads in other parts of the city also have a similar fate.
Railway gates– For years,Belagavi has suffered patiently waiting at railway gates and wasted lakhs of productive man hours just practicing being cool in times of urgency. Why cant the people get together and agitate for this one basic and urgent need- an overbridge at the First gate and Old PB Road ? Is it too much of an expectation? Not at all considering that it will not only save petrol, time and energy, it will also streamline traffic by avoiding jams. Thankfully one RoB is under construction at Kapileshwar but only God will tell the fate of the citizens on the sides of the bridge.
Water– we have access to water only 4 months of the year or even less. Yes, since the supply is once in three days. This has been the case for the past many years. Every year, there is talk of desilting Rakaskop reservoir, but to no avail. The reservoir fills up within days and empties equally fast since it has become extremely shallow. Why cant the desilting be taken up in high summer while the city is fed through the Hidkal waters?
City Transport– It is so rudimentary, that sometimes we forget to remember that it even exists. Bad and narrow roads have resulted in the city bus service to become redundant. Ask ten people the number of their bus route and 7 of them won’t be able to tell for they have never accessed it of late. Owning a bike is far better than waiting long hours at far away bus stops. Had there been proper city transport service, the number of private vehicles would come down drastically. And then the ever troubling parking problem could have been handled efficiently.
Public Toilets– Conspicuous by their absence, public toilets are something Belagavi must feel ashamed of. The ones that are still there, are more pathetic stinking relics than functional.
Auditorium– The Kumar Gandharva Rang Mandir would have been one ideal one, if only it would be centrally located or had regular bus service. Kannada Sahitya Bhavan serves more as an exhibition center and Kala Mandir has all but lost its sheen with even ambulances, Dust bins parked inside. Where are smaller halls, auditorium and theatres that can be utilized by deserving artistes?
And when will Belagavi get a museum?
Waste disposal– The corporation banished the street-side trash bins with the intention that waste would be picked up from source. But neither has worked and the city roads are now flaunting the trash in the open ! One has to keep a tab on when the ‘Bell-cart’ arrives ( or whether it will…). In case it doesn’t, the citizens have to search for the nearest bin to dispose everyday waste. Have a look at Mahatma Phule Road, Kacheri Galli ( opp. Shakambari Temple), Market Yard, etc. where huge piles of all kinds of waste is dumped on the road and not picked up. In such a scenario, it’s a distant dream that biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste would be separately disposed.
Traffic management– the less said the better. Every few years, a new set of traffic lights are proudly erected and then are just forgotten within days. Try locating the rusting pillars at Basveshwar Circle (Goaves), at Bank of India Corner (Shahapur) or even opp. Globe theatre! A new technique adopted by the Belagavi police is placing barricades in a haphazard way on major streets after 9 p.m. One fails to comprehend what purpose it serves except that vehicles dangerously meander through them inviting accidents.
Better connectivity to Pune- Bangalore- Mumbai- Goa-Belagavi folks have always failed to get proper railway facility to these places! The remotest place in Bengal or Bihar is well connected to the country, but not a bustling city like Belagavi which has everyday business with these cities. A lone Chennamma express and the YPR Miraj express is not enough to connect us with the state capital. And there are no trains of convenient times to mention that can link us with Pune and Mumbai.
All this leads us to keep asking the question ‘WHY’? Why not… Is it too much to expect from a government that flourishes on taxpayers’ money?
Do we need to take up these causes the way Anna Hazare did or reel under these pitiable conditions perpetually? If we have the audacity of hope to dream big, we must also have the guile to demand highways for our dreams.