Land for road in Whitefield recovered by activists

Bengaluru: Techies may no longer have to inch through the village roads of Whitefield. In a resounding victory, the Hagadur ward committee has got back 37 guntas of land from some farmers of Nellurhalli.

This land, which was once a public road, was encroached by the farmers who cultivated it for over two decades, and is a crucial short-cut to reach EPIP and ITPL through Old Airport Road via Kundanahalli Gate.

In just three months, with over 12 weekly meetings, 10 citizens of Hagadur ward committee (number 84) in Mahadevapura zone got back the road – perhaps the first ward committee in Bengaluru to not just work to get things done by the BBMP but also achieve a milestone in civic activism. The ward committee which has six members of Whitefield Rising and four villagers, apart from local corporator S Uday Kumar, have shown the way to citizens across the 197 wards.

The workforce that enters ITPL through Old Airport Road had to go through narrow village roads of Nellurhalli, whereas the 30-feet wide road was being cultivated by farmers. This road existed in old village maps but when it was left undeveloped for long, locals started cultivating the land. Villagers were also disturbed because motorists choked their roads and they were unused to such traffic movement.

“We met every Saturday and created a WhatsApp group of the ward committee members. We kept pushing our agenda to find alternative roads and decongest the existing roads in Whitefield. When we found the village map showing this road, we began working through the corporator to get back the land and develop this road. Although it was tough to break the nexus between politicians, land grabbers and farmers, the villagers supported us. This victory means a lot to us,” said Srinivas Reddy, one of the Whitefield Rising members on the committee.

What also worked for the team was the brand name –Whitefield Rising. Six members are techies and corporates, like Reddy and Anjali Saini, who devoted time off their work and private life to work for their ward. They met on Saturdays with clear agendas and ensured that all ward level officials and engineers also attended the meetings along with the corporator and acted on the decisions/resolutions of the meetings.

The ward committee has also started work to get back another piece of encroached land, covering four acres, for a park. “We have already started the paper work to get back this land and once we do, we will fence it and make it a park. We are also working with the corporator and villagers to clean up government schools, build toilets and put up solar lights,” Reddy told media.

 This is clearly an example of how our neighbourhoods can be fixed, street by street. Solutions will come from engaged citizens and not just from governments. Active leadership is also required, which the area corporator has demonstrated by working with this ward committee and getting things done in such a short time. It is a role model for other MLAs and corporators now to empower ward committees and fix our neighbourhoods. Only then will Bengaluru lead.

Credits Times of India

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