Decongesting Bengaluru's prime business hubs

Amidst the ongoing clamour about the inability of India’s IT capital to resolve its infrastructure woes, comes a new development which may impact Bengaluru’s commercial property market in 2016. Several companies housed in Outer Ring Road (ORR) and Whitefield’s business parks are contemplating other emerging IT destinations such as Pune, Navi Mumbai and Hyderabad for expansion and consolidation. China is also on the radar of a few. Recent statistics about the vehicular growth are an indication of extreme pressure being exerted on the city’s limited infrastructure.

One step towards urbanisation throws us back many steps

Despite twin flyovers and Bus Rapid Transit in central lanes on some stretches, the Government’s measures to tackle the worsening traffic situation yielded no visible results. Coupled with state government’s inability to tackle issues the situation looks far from ideal to provide a conducive ecosystem for both new startups and companies in expansion mode. As per media reports, the Outer Ring Road Companies Association (ORRCA) claims losses due to productivity for companies to the tune of INR 22,000 crores. Employees spend between 4-5 hours on the road to commute to and from work. To say that such traffic condition takes a toll on their health and family life would be an understatement and many peaceful protests and initiatives by corporates in these locations to get government attention to this subject have been futile. 

Progress so far does not fetch too many smiles yet

ORRCA’S initiatives to start a unified drive by assimilating resources from the various corporates who are located in and around the vicinity of ORR include subscription fee from companies to appoint traffic wardens for safety and maneuvering traffic in and out of tech parks; bus services for employees, promoting carpooling inside campuses; and collecting INR 4 crores from 22 companies like Intel and Intuit technologies to kick start construction of skywalks on this stretch. Developers such as RMZ have also joined the drive by pooling in resources for the proposed skywalks. Government, on the other hand has planned another twin flyover project near the Bagmane Tech Park junction in Doddanekkundi which has met with severe backlash from residents due to its supposedly faulty layout which will do less to improve the prevailing traffic gridlocks. The ORR Improvement Plan has received a funding of INR 25 crores from the state government which would be utilised for repairing potholes, service road improvements and traffic management systems. It would be interesting to see the outcome of this initiative as the city’s IT companies are not a happy lot at present.

What is the big plan? Is it big enough?

As Bengaluru gears up for the Invest Karnataka 2016 next month, the big question which remains to be answered is – Can the State Government go beyond numerous facelifts and shortsighted measures and solve these simmering infrastructure issues which are vital for expansion and consolidation of corporate giants?  So far, both the Government and private sectors have been working independently. There has been no joint effort or a Public Private Partnership (PPP) on this issue. In my opinion, a well-planned framework similar to the PPP model to provide wide and well-built roads, skywalks, traffic management, check on heavy commercial vehicles in daytime, upkeep of approach roads to numerous IT parks and an augmented public transport system will help solve the problem to a great extent. Both the government and private sector need to work in tandem and pool in financial and technical knowhow to come up with a solution customised to address these issues. If successful, this model will pave the way for a holistic traffic governance system in other parts of the city and more such partnerships going forward. 

What “Brand Bengaluru” needs now is not marketing initiatives to attract new companies but a much needed Public Private Partnership.

 

About the author

Divya Grover works at Colliers International as Senior Manager, Research Services. She has more than 9 years of experience in primary and secondary research and analysis, managing large data repositories and account management. She is well-versed with all real estate sectors such as commercial, residential, retail, land and industrial across all major Indian cities and has authored many whitepapers and articles on emerging trends and hot topics related to the industry.

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