Yella OK, MUDA Beke?
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Yella OK, MUDA Beke?

February 24, 2024

Ah, behold the whimsical tale of Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA), a veritable comedy of errors in the grand theatre of urban planning !

As we eagerly await the spectacle of their annual Budget presentation on Feb. 28, one cannot help but wonder: Yella OK, MUDA Beke?

 Last year’s Budget left Mysureans scratching their heads in amusement and joy as MUDA unveiled a flurry of grand proposals, but guess what? MUDA can implement the proposed projects only after Government approval. But the Budget was never sent to the Government for approval ! 

So, was it all just a whimsical charade, a jest to tease the good people of Mysuru?

The proposals were grand. There was an announcement to develop a residential layout at Bommenahalli but MUDA is yet to initiate the land acquisition process. Meanwhile, over 80,000 applications for sites are pending !

Funds were allocated to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for constructing Road Under Bridges (RUBs) on the Outer Ring Road (ORR) to connect Vijayanagar Second Stage to Vijayanagar Fourth Stage but there is no progress on this front.

Over Rs. 100 crore was designated to construct a multi-utility commercial complex at MUDA layouts and other residential areas under its jurisdiction. No progress on this front either.

Again, Rs. 100 crore was budgeted to establish Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), which too remains unimplemented. 

Since its creation, MUDA has done 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. 

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The MUDA preamble states, “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.”

But the irony is that in 50 years, the MUDA has allotted a little over 50,000 sites. Meanwhile, in just 20 years, private developers have distributed 70,000 sites !

Since 1994, MUDA has built just two layouts !

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.

MUDA, today is an institution that has benefited politicians and bureaucrats more than the people of Mysuru. There seems to be an ‘understanding’ between leaders of all parties when it comes to MUDA — you don’t expose me, I won’t expose you.  

Three years ago, when the then DC made allegations of irregularities against the then MUDA Chairman, the Opposition party was mum. 

It was shocking because back then, among the 7 MLAs who were MUDA Board members, 4 were from the Opposition party ! 

Even more surprising, 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 — Town Planner Member (City Planning Officer) of Mysuru City Corporation (MCC), Executive Engineer of MCC, Superintending Engineer of Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation (CESC) and Executive Engineer of 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. But they sure love visionless projects.

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Two years ago, MUDA wanted to build grotesque-looking ‘welcome’ arches at the entrance of all the roads leading into Mysuru city ! Similarly in 2012, it proposed to construct a theme park in front of the grand Lalitha Mahal Palace with a musical fountain, IMAX theatre, a laser show and a battery-operated train. 

One has to appreciate the audacity of MUDA — it has failed in its primary function of providing housing, yet it had the gumption to construct a theme park! 

Interestingly, they changed their mind and said they’d turn that area into a Rock Garden instead. That too has not materialised.

If our city is to be saved from going the Bengaluru way, our saviour is not the State Government- appointed MUDA members, who are lacking in imagination, vision and aesthetics. It is like expecting a fox to guard the hen house.  

MUDA members are supposed to meet every month to discuss timelines of pending projects, new plans etc.

Last year, they met 3 times !  This year they have met once, but nothing was discussed in the meeting as there was some fracas among the members.

Worse, MUDA has not had a Chairman for one year now. How can such a broken institution build a future ready and sustainable Mysuru? Impossible.

If MUDA cannot serve Mysureans, which it hasn’t and cannot in its present form, it might as well be wound up. Because, right now MUDA has become PUDA — Politicians’ Urban Development Authority ! 

All one can say is let us raise our voices in protest, else in the grand comedy of urban planning, the joke will be truly on us Mysureans.

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