I wrote this article last year after getting frustrated by the condition of my city Ahmedabad after just a couple of weeks of heavy rain:
‘”Ahmedabad – India”s first megacity.”
Till about three years back I would have agreed with this newspaper clipping. However if one visits the city with this impression in his mind he”ll surely get disappointed. Ahmedabad is in ruins right now. It just needs one big spell of rains and lots of construction work to spell doom to the infrastructure of the city.Flashback two years back when the work on the much hyped started. The roads were pretty descent if not perfect. They were as wide and smooth as the mouth of a Mumbaikar on his first road trip in the city. But things have gone from bad to worse in the coming years and that too because people here ignored the basics. It just needs one spell of heavy rains to wreck havoc in the city. Lack of a proper drainage system means water logging is frequent and stretches on for weeks. The top layer of the roads got badly damaged (I read in the newspaper that a certain final coating of the roads was missing – wtf?). Then there were huge cave-ins (5-15 feet deep and don”t ask me how wide :-o) on the roads. The look it gave was as if the city was just hit by meteors of different shapes and sizes. Power cuts have become quite frequent especially in the suburbs like Bopal etc. The equation goes like 1 hr of rains = 3 hrs of power cut. The roads were damaged during the construction of the BRTS corridor. Then they were again opened up when some telecom company were putting their cables inside, then they were dug open again when the drainage pipes were being inserted. I read somewhere that roads are the veins/arteries (or god knows what!) of your city. Imagine your wrist being slit open again and again because of injuries – its painful for you, similarly it is painful for the development of the city to be humiliated in such a manner. The problem with most of the Indian cities is that they”re made to look attractive on the surface no matter how much rotten they”re on the core. We Indians love to show off and that”s what we are trying to reflect through our cities as well. Sudden growth of swanky buildings, glittering malls, multiplexes, flyovers doesn”t necessarily mean you’re going all hunky-funky modern types. A city will be considered modern only if the administration sticks to its basics like providing excellent roads, a modern drainage system & a good development plan. Because people need to have the basics to make their lives comfortable. Without the roads they won”t be able to visit that Iscon Mall on anyway. Town planning can be compared to the preparations for entrance exams like etc. The stronger you”re on your basics the more easily you would be able to crack the exam and move to the next level of the selection process. Similarly, the better the basic infrastructure facilities of a city the smoother will be its transition from just another city to something new age like a ”Mega City”.