In Bangalore, development is now a cancer

Humans need about 740 Kgs of Oxygen per year to survive. Unfortunately, only 23% of our air is actually oxygen. Every breath we take is only 33% oxygen. To provide that kind of fuel for us to survive, we need about 7–8 trees to sustain a single person per year.

Bangalore is the second fastest growing city in India. Once referred to as the Garden City, today Bangalore has only 1 tree for every 7 people. To survive sustainably, we need to increase the tree cover by 50 times immediately, just to sustain the existing population.Thereafter, we will need to double our tree cover at least once every 5 years.

The flaws of modern economics dictate that consumption alone is the key indicator of growth, not the preservation of our environment or ecological heritage. The government of Karnataka has several projects in the pipeline that range from 2000 Crores to 25,000 Crores. More alarmingly, almost every project will adversely effect the environment, resulting in the felling of 40,000 to 50,000 trees over the next 2–3 years. Bangalore will be losing approximately 50 trees a day if the government has its way and there’s little sign that they understand or care about the environmental impact.

A consolidated map of some of the major projects proposed by the government resembles a mutated octopus engulfing the centre and periphery of the city.

Consolidated map of some of the major projects proposed by GoK (Credit: Naresh Narasimhan)

For Bangalore to rescue itself from certain death, it requires radical new thinking. We need to prioritize people over objects. By centering development around cars, the government has effectively incentivised private car ownership. As smart cities around the world have moved towards a pedestrian-first approach — in our own city, we’re seeing the shrinking of public spaces in favour of petrol and diesel guzzling smoke machines.

~50% of Bangalore travels in about 6000 public buses, while the remaining 50% require 64,00,000 vehicles. 2000 more vehicles are being added every day and the growth rate is only increasing. How is this sustainable? How many bridges do we need to build before we realize how unsustainable this is?

Perhaps the answer to that question has already come from the unlikeliest of sources — a politician (Read here).