12 STEPS TO A ‘MAGNIFICENT MYSORE’
Compared to most Indian cities, Mysore is a veritable paradise. Still, we cannot rest easy on what we have inherited. With great things being predicted for our City, Mysore is at a point of “strategic inflection”. How we respond to it will decide what it will become.
The inclusion of Mysore in the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), with the promise of Rs 300 crore to make the city better, is good augury.
Here are 12 steps I believe we must take with that money if Mysore is not to become another Bangalore.
STEP ONE: Build multi-storeyed parking lots
We must seriously consider the construction of multi-storeyed parking buildings, near prominent commercial places, to accommodate two-wheelers in the cellar and four-wheelers in 3-4 floors for a fee.
One such building could be constructed at the open space of the Nallappa Thana Police Station premises located on Dewan’s Road, near Devaraj Urs Road.
Parking on roads like Sayaji Rao Road, Devaraj Urs Road, Ashoka Road and a few other congested roads should be banned.
STEP TWO: Revive rain water harvesting
Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV had created an excellent and massive underground and open drainage facility in the City. It carried rain water in the gradient between two ridges, from Kukkarahalli to Karanji Kere (foothills of Chamundi), through the heart of the city.
Even during the heavy downpours during monsoon season and the Dasara, within a few minutes the water used to fully drain out into this underground drainage chain, unlike at present when the K.R.Circle and surrounding areas turn into a virtual lake.
This facility needs to be unearthed and revived, instead of creating new storm water drains at a huge cost.
For example, one such drainage line, which is as huge as an elephant, is hidden under the road at the corner of Jagan Mohan Palace. The big open drainages like on College Road and Sri Harsha Road (opposite Opera talkies) also need to be either covered and maintained for utilizing the rain water for the parks there.
STEP THREE: Revive water bodies
The above drainage facility also linked all the major lakes in the city. Dewan Purnaiah had tried to bring drinking water from K.R. Nagar and dug up Purnaiah Channel. However, it had failed then, but it linked the lakes around the city, ensuring free flow of rain water through this channel to the lakes.
Right from Kempabudhi lake upto Karanji and Dalvoy lakes, these lakes are interlinked. In fact, Kukkarahalli was providing drinking water to the people of Mysore during the 1800s, before the Vani Vilas Water Works was commissioned. Till about 1950, it was meeting the water requirements of the Sandalwood Oil Factory. A water storage and treatment tank existed at the place where the MUDA new wing is located now.
These channels should be cleared wherever blocked/ unauthorisedly blocked to save the water bodies and to replenish them with rain water. This will save the water bodies, help rain-water harvesting, and improve the ecology and beauty of the city.
STEP FOUR: Build more suburban markets
We often hear only about Devaraja Market, but have done very little to reduce the pressure on it. Why not rebuild the Vani Vilasa Market (chikka market), retaining its frontal facade under a modern construction?
A multi-storey market facility can take care of the market facility for Mysore South.
Similarly, why not build a market at Nanju Malige, where at present vendors have occupied the footpath. A two or three-storey market structure with row shops, with one or two floors, attached to the footpath can clear the congestion and help smooth flow of traffic.
STEP FIVE: Restore Devaraja Market
In the 1960s and ‘70s, Devaraja Market was as beautiful as any European Market. Appropriately planned and designed for a market, each section was allocated for specific items like fruits, vegetables, coconuts, grocery shops, flowers and betel leaves and condiments.
Seated on the stone platforms the merchants would sell their items under the shade and store their items in the small cellars beneath these platforms. An excellent system took care of draining out rain water right from the roof, rain water flowing into the underground drains through the hollow iron pillars supporting each shop. Market shows were an annual event.
Today, these features are lost and it has become dirty and ill-organised. A phased development could be taken up, to restore order and beauty.
STEP SIX: Create a miniature heritage city
To show-case the heritage of Mysore, a mini heritage city, as it existed in 1800-1900s, preferably at the Chamundi foothills would be an ideal reminder of the city’s old charm and a tourist attraction.
Replicas of old country-tiled mud houses (Agrahara houses), the old Palace (which was destroyed in fire in 1889), buildings like Purnaiah Choultry, Chamundi Hill Palace (both no longer exist) and other such structures should be built in smaller proportions.
Tongas should take tourists around this old city. Elephant and horse rides with attendants in the Durbar dress could be an added attraction. A few cafes should offer Mysore dishes in a hygienic way. Artisans like pot-makers, handicraft makers, bangle sellers, and astrologers, snake-charmers should showcase their talent and market their items.
Such mini cities, showcasing their past glory, are big attractions in Australia (Melbourne), New Zealand, the U.S. and other countries.
STEP SEVEN: Create a Brand Mysore
The Maharajas, in particular K.R. Wodeyar IV, had built a brand image for Mysore, show-casing all the products of Mysore at the annual Dasara Exhibition at the Dasara Exhibition Building on Irwin Road.
It showcased products like Mysore sandal soap, Mysore sandalwood oil, Mysore silks, Mysore handicrafts, Mysore agarbathis and a host of other Mysore (then Mysore State) products.
We need to revive this brand image of Mysore. “Magnificient Mysore’ could be the brand like ‘God’s Own Country’.
STEP EIGHT: Not just IT/BT, build a food park
Besides IT and BT parks, a food technology park could be ideal for Mysore as we have two excellent food laboratories, CFTRI & DFRL, offering food technology, research transfer and other inputs for industries.
The proposed food processing industries in the Union Budget should be housed in the food tech park. The State Government should offer of concessions for food industries. Traditional food industries should get additional support to promote Mysore brand items, like Hurigalu (now almost disappeared), Mysore pak and the like.
STEP NINE: Take care of plants and animals
We take care of the people but ignore the animals and birds in the city. Stray cows, buffaloes, pigs, horses have become a nuisance even on main roads like Sayaji Rao Road. But they do contribute to the economy of the city. Why not plan community animal centres, like common cow-sheds, piggeries etc wherever possible?
Similarly, the Maharajas planned appropriate avenue trees for each road—tall flowering trees for Sayaji Rao Road, neem trees on Rama Vilas Road, Jacaranda trees on Dewan’s Road, rain trees on Chamaraja Double Road, etc, which also attracted a large number of birds, including parrots in large numbers.
Similar planner tree planting to suit each road or street should be taken up.
STEP TEN: Introduce transparency in administrationTo make its administration more transparent, the Mysore City Corporation should publish a monthly newsletter highlighting its plans, projects, meeting dates, public inspections/hearings etc. Auckland Regional Council in New Zealand publishes such a monthly news letter and distributes free all over the city.
STEP ELEVEN: Streamline tax collection
The present facility for house and building tax payment for public is very poor. For example, a resident on Dewan’s Road has to go all the way to Jayanagar to pay tax.
Electronic payment and payment through select nationalized banks should be introduced and payment counters should be opened at the MCC premises for the convenience of tax payers.
STEP TWELVE: Create a special police force
The 74th Constitution amendment enables civic bodies to have their own policing to check civic offences like unauthorized buildings, unhygienic cafes, road-cuttings, unauthorized water connections etc. Such a squad should be created to operate round the clock in Mysore with powers for spot punishment and levy of fine.
What do you think of Satya’s suggestions? Do you have more suggestions on how to make our city better?
Drop a comment on the homepage? Be the change you want to see.