My-sore or Eye-sore?
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My-sore or Eye-sore?

September 23, 2023

A retired Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) Assistant Director has alleged irregularities in MUDA. No one is surprised because ‘irregularities’ are regular in MUDA. Since its creation, MUDA has done very little in terms of ‘planned’ urban development in Mysuru. It is no longer an effective institution and is in need of a serious re-haul.

By 2030, 600 million Indians, or 40 percent of the country’s population, will reside in urban areas, and Mysuru too will feel that change sooner than expected.

In the last 8 years, access to Mysuru has become efficient with consistent air connectivity, an increase in fast trains and the Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway; with that the influx of people into Mysuru to ‘settle’ down has also increased. So, does MUDA today have the ability to deliver planned growth for our city? The answer is an emphatic NO.

The MUDA preamble states, But the irony is that in 50 years, the MUDA has all“To promote well-planned and well-designed urban development…making available environment-friendly and affordable housing using state-of-the-art technologies to all strata of society”. otted little over 50,000 sites. Meanwhile, in just 20 years, private developers have distributed 70,000 sites!

Since 1994, MUDA has built just one layout! But in the past 22 years, they have approved hundreds of private layouts, driving up real estate prices and making housing for ordinary citizens unaffordable.

Even more shameful is that some MUDA layouts developed and delivered 50 years ago are now being scrutinised! Case in point:  Siddartha Layout, delivered by CITB (now MUDA) in 1973, 50 years ago! And K.C. Layout, which was delivered in 1994, 29 years ago! How can a Government body retain its legitimacy if this is its legacy?

 MUDA has been lucrative to all political parties at the cost of Mysureans. Many may recall two years ago when the then DC made allegations of irregularities against the then MUDA Chairman, the Opposition party was mum.

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It was shocking because back then, among the 7 MLAs who were MUDA Board members, 4 were from the Opposition party! Even more surprising, back then, of the 5 MLCs who were MUDA Board members, all 5 were from the Opposition party! Yet they kept quiet?

Even more shocking is that of the 25 members in MUDA, there are only 4 technical persons — City Planning Officer, Mysuru City Corporation (MCC), Executive Engineer, MCC, Superintending Engineer, Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation (CESC) and Executive Engineer, Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWS&DB)! How can our city be ready for growth? Where are the world-class technocrats?

 MUDA and MCC are not preparing for long-term growth of Mysuru. We say this looking at their callous attitude regarding even the most basic human need — water.

In 2019, Lake Conservation expert U.N. Ravikumar of Mysuru reported that our city had 106 lakes. Out of this, 37 lakes had disappeared, and 69 are alive.

Among them, 42 lakes are on the verge of depletion, and 22 fall under MCC limits. Yet there is no clear action plan to save them.

Small lakes in Mysuru are being quietly filled with construction debris. Once filled and levelled, the land-grabbers create fake papers showing ancestry and ownership,  after which it is sent for MUDA approval, and it gets APPROVED!

 As Mysuru grows, lakes will become necessary. Lakes can ease the impact of floods and droughts by storing large amounts of water while replenishing groundwater.

Already, the depth to which we have to dig a borewell for water has gotten deeper. It will   only worsen if we do not preserve our parks and lakes. This means we need an organisation for urban planning…like MUDA, but unfortunately, they are busy planning quick ‘money-making’ projects.

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Two years ago, I met a senior MUDA official who wanted to share some plans for ‘development’ in the city. I was looking forward to it as I imagined MUDA was planning a new ‘sustainable’ layout with an urban forest and water conservation system. But no, what he showed me were the plans for constructing grotesque-looking ‘welcome’ arches at the entrance of all the roads leading into Mysuru city!

Similarly, on June 26, 2012, it was reported that MUDA, in its 2012-13 budget, had allocated Rs.50 lakh to get a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for a proposed park right in front of Lalitha Mahal Palace.

The proposal said that the park is expected to have…, get ready to be seduced: A Sound and Light Show, animatronics (robotic moving objects), a musical fountain, a big movie screen (IMAX), a regular theatre, an open-air theatre, a yoga centre, laser show and a battery-operated train. Phew!

 One has to appreciate the audacity of MUDA — it failed in its primary function of providing housing yet had the gumption to build a theme park?! Interestingly, they changed their mind and said they’d turn that area into a Rock Garden instead but that too has not materialised.

If our city is to be saved from going the Bengaluru way, it cannot be left to the Government alone to take action.

Expecting the Government-appointed MUDA Chairman and Officers, who are insincere and lacking in imagination, vision and aesthetics to protect our city, is like expecting a fox to guard the hen house.

 It’s time Mysureans start getting involved with NGOs fighting to keep the city clean, green and sustainable. If just left to MUDA and MCC, ‘My-sore will become an Eye-sore.’

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