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Development or curse?

Bangalore may be Karnataka's international showpiece but a widespread sentiment is that many other parts of the state feel Bangalore has been prospering at their expense.

india Updated: May 25, 2008, 13:07 IST
Hindustan Times

"Any more development of Bangalore will be a curse," said real estate dealer S. Prakash. The city may be Karnataka's international showpiece despite its rapidly crumbling infrastructure but a widespread sentiment that has come to the fore during the assembly poll campaign is that many other parts of the state feel Bangalore has been prospering at their expense.

This resentment manifests itself in its most extreme form in Kodagu district or Coorg, where the Codanva National Council (NCN) called for a poll boycott to draw attention to the area's neglect. "We have been ignored and disregarded by successive governments in Karnataka," said Nu Nachhappa, chief of NCN, which wants the Coorg area to be declared 'a state within a state' (a la Darjeeling) in Karnataka. "While Bangalore thrives people here have to walk 12 to 15 kms for basic amenities."

Coorg is not the only region whose pristine beauty seems almost untouched by modern day development. Almost all the eight districts of North Karnataka, which goes to the polls on Thursday, are in the same state. There is a growing demand for better facilities, better infrastructure, more jobs and better education.

"Barring Kodagu district, the regional imbalances have not yet provoked any strong political movement, but there are clear signs that they must be addressed immediately for the state's peaceful growth to continue," said Trilochan Sastry, professor at IIM (Bangalore). "If political parties wanted to, this problem could be easily addressed," said R. S. Deshpande, who teaches at the Institute for Social and Economic Change. "But past experience shows that very little is done and so there is little hope for the future," he added.

Indeed indications are that Bangalore will receive even more attention in days to come than in the past. With 28 assembly seats after the delimitation exercise, the city's political clout will be much greater than in the past. The city's Metro is expected in 2010, a new Hosur Bangalore expressway is in the offing, five more sprawling Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) colonies, a peripheral ring road– the list is long. Bangalore needs all these no doubt but all this attention to the capital is only likely to increase Karnataka's regional imbalance.

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