Saturday, November 28, 2009

Land in North Bangalore Part 1, with some background

Roses growing in North Bangalore. The land is very rich, and this region has been a center of flower and agricultural.
One farmer we visited is expanding his production, using techniques taught him by the agricultural university. More on this later, as it is worth its own posting, but this time we're focusing on the land, and the transformation.

Power lines above ...

Lately I've gone for some rides in North Bangalore, looking at various plots of land, and watching the development process. This confirms the non-planned, totally random process of expansion of Bangalore that one sees in the metropolitan area spreading out further and further.

For some background, WIRED magazine in late 2008 published a frightening article entitled "The Godfather of Bangalore" by Scott Carney about the land mafia. Here's a blurb from Scott's blog "www.scottcarnegyonline.com" (which makes for fascinating reading) with which I agree:
In my view, Bangalore isn't only an example of the best that India has to offer. Instead Bangalore shows how the worst elements of Indian society can co-exist with a ultra high tech and modern image. Bangalore today isn't much different than it was three hundred years ago when kings ruled the land. The kings of today are power brokers, IT captains of industry, underworld dons and government ministers who play by their own rules. Bangalore isn't neo-colonialist as some people have claimed. It's neo-feudalist.
The feudalism theme is relevant in many, many spaces, especially when talking about land, land transfer, ownership, and development. The pictures below track the process of residential development, a theme I've mentioned before and will continue to follow.

Agricultural land gets "converted" and "released for development" by various processes, but one is never sure the land titles are valid. I have heard multiple horror stories of folks buying land, and even building, only to be told that the original transfer wasn't valid -- and this after lawyers, officials, and more lawyers have given their opinions. Land disputes hold up both good and bad projects.
Plots of land tend to have the "no trespassing" sign, a wall around them, and a little hut for someone to live in while they watch/defend the land. Larger developments of course have bigger fence and more impressive guardhouses.
This is the outside guardhouse being built. Inside the fences, you see the basic infrastructure being laid out, and buildings going up.
The road inside the layout.
Pipes to build it.
And the women working, as usual, harder than the men.

Here is another development - townhouses and apartments -- further along.
We arrived at the end of the day, so kids were home from school (yes, we asked, and the kids were Kannada speakers, probably from North Karnataka, whose parents were working on the project, and they told us about their school).
OSHA would have a field day.
Modern construction equipment is used side-by-side old (dare I say ancient) techniques.
The little girl in the blue is in 2nd standard/grade. They were thrilled to see themselves when I showed them their picture.

Booming Indian cities like Bangalore are surrounded by ads like this, and then the complexes they promise -- although the complexes generally don't look *exactly* like the mock-ups.
Now, here is what it looks like right now:
I like the scare-crow on the top of the first house. Outside the walls, here is the agent showing some of my friends the layout. Note the nice office/guardhouse behind. This belongs to the previous billboard complex.
In another area, we saw a turkey - appropriate for this Thanksgiving Day weekend posting.
Below is the temporary housing built for the workers building the complex. As far as this type of housing goes, this isn't bad.
These are the houses they are building:
Now, the land rush around Bangalore means that deals need to be cut. We have neighbor who is a land wheeler and dealer. When his business colleagues come over, the kids lose their cricket space, and the drivers menace all of us.
These folks give me the creeps.
So as not to close on a negative note, we see lots of schools and girls attending them, which means that not all is lost.
Girls leaving school.
Students leaving the school to walk, go to the bus stop, or bike home.

1 comment:

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