Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Sea-link is only a “See-link” and the Metro is “Retro.” There Goes the BKC Neighbourhood!

Another bizarre day in the monsoon season. Brace yourself, what I am writing today may sound bizarre and is kind of, sort of, longish.
Business took me to Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) yesterday but, my God, what a ride. First of all it's tough persuading those thugs to take you there. They all are in a tearing hurry to roll down the edge of the earth at Chowpatty Beach on Marine Drive, or some such place.

Then sitting inside a ramshackle taxi ("Only I can close and open these doors," said the driver.) we crawled (yes, literally crawled on the roads) till we reached Worli where the driver decided to abandon us because the metre had stopped functioning. I said he had let me down and wasted my time. He said he took pity on my and Avinash by my side as we stood holding all that stuff we usually take with us for displays.

Then we changed taxis and again rode at 40 miles/hour for a few minutes and again we ended up in a jam. A ride that should have taken 45 minutes took us 3 hours. The taxi driver by way of explanation told me that the ride took longer because of the prestigious "Sea-Link Road" which was supposed to ease traffic congestion and speed things up.

"What, you mean all that money for nothing?" I was flabber-er-ghasted.

"They didn't plan the exit and entry to the Sea-Link. That's why you see this big traffic snarl."

"I see."

Yes I can see the Sea-Link Road is another "See-link" meaning another structure to see and take pride in rather than serve the purpose of the people.

Another such white elephant is the Metro. I have ranted about this often. I have said again and again that the Metro should touch Kurla and not by-pass it. Every morning I see this horde getting down at Kurla station to go to Andheri from New Bombay. Andheri is an important corporate destination and New Bombay is an important residential node. And their meeting point is Kurla and not Ghatkopar. So what's wrong? Why can't they take the right decisions? Taking the Metro through Ghatkopar wouldn't serve any purpose because it is skirting the congested areas which need to be, well, de-congested.

It's godawfully pathetic, our planning.

It's because our politicians and planners have little contact with people. It's all right for them to want to make Bombay look better with a Sea-Link and a Metro (so that it resembles Shanghai) but what about the hardcore planning involved to make the city livable? It is obvious outward looks are what a politician is interested in (see all those dyed hair, the natty khadi jackets with matching footwear), but then why don't they let the engineers and technocrats do the planning? Or, are those nincompoops worried muchly about letting their commissions go to others?

The verdict is out: The Sea-link is only a "See-link" and the Metro is "Retro." Both will take us nowhere, even regress us a few decades into the past.

When the function ended in BKC (which is one of the government's most prestigious de-congestion attempts) I was faced with another conundrum. It's 10 p.m. and there aren't any taxis and rickshaws available. Nor are there stands where the taxis and rickshaws can park. Nor are there proper road indications. Nor is there a place to eat (I am hungry.).

Damn! There goes the neighbourhood, the BKC neighbourhood, I mean.

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