Dear Mr. Pratap Simha
The front page of yesterday eveninger, City Today said that you are all set to turn Mysore into Paris.
Now while it is my dearest wish to sip champagne atop the Eifel Tower while wearing a Chanel original - and what could be better than if I could do that in Namma Mysooru - I reigned in my untrammeled ecstasy to take a few minutes to read beyond the headline and try to understand what exactly you had in mind.
First of all, according to you, this Paris-of-India idea is Mr. Narendra Modi’s pre-election promise. Lovely, really, though I think what he said was slightly different. http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/modi-to-make-mysore-a-global-tourist-hub/article5890071.ece. But, I won’t quibble – after all, who can say ‘no’ to Paris.
Secondly, on carefully perusing your “development agenda” as stated by the newspaper, I noticed that apart from a “think tank” on ideas to develop Mysore, the rest of it is all to do with improving connectivity between Mysore to Bangalore. And of course having tour guides printed in all Indian and foreign languages, which I hope will include Serbo-Croatian and Swahili because there is no saying from where tourists will flock to = Paris of India.
But, in your pre-election and post election tours of namma soon-to-be-Paris-of-India, you may have noticed that we have a few pressing problems. And I am only bringing them to your noticenot because we locals are inconvenienced – how could I be so selfish
But because the tourists are likely to notice.
Like this one.
Thing is, of late, we Mysoreans have begun to produce a lot of garbage. Side effects of development, I’m told
About 400 tonnes of it a day, give or take a few tonnes. And it seems that we – (by ‘we’, I mean we the public as well as the Mysore City Corporation) haven’t yet figured out what to do with all this garbage. To understand what I mean, just walk around the city and you will see piles of garbage lying around much like the one in the picture. Now, I haven’t been to Paris but I’m guessing that mounds of putrid, stinking garbage do not figure as one of its attractions. And yes, I know you plan to light up Chamundi Hill and the Mysore Palace every evening but I don’t think that will really distract the tourists from the garbage, if you get my drift.
Now, apart from garbage, we Mysoreans have decided that we need a lot of vehicles. On the roads and off them. (In fact, in many residential areas, there is more parked vehicle than road.) So, vehicular traffic is currently estimated at about 5 lakh vehicles which makes it about 1 vehicle for every 2 Mysoreans. And every third shop, after a chemist and a bakery is a two-wheeler showroom.
So what‘s the problem?
Er, a small one really. In order to drives all those vehicles, we need roads. And our roads are….well, let’s just say that we are moving to a situations where there may be more potholes than vehicles. Or Mysoreans. And it isn't as if our ever diligent civic authorities don’t repair the roads. But for some strange, till-now-not-understood-by-science-and-technology, the potholes pop up again. And again. And again. Bigger and deeper and more pot-holer than the last ones. And the reason why this might come in the way of our hurtling towards becoming the Paris-of-India is that tourists travel on roads too.
From their hotels to Chamundi Hill to see all those pretty lights.
And then to Mysore Palace to see more pretty lights. And so on and so forth.
Let me say for the record that it isn’t as if the aforementioned diligent civic authorities are trying. As an example, they planned to convert 5-kilometer stretch of road along which the annual Dussera procession travels into a “Raja Marga”. I’m not sure what exactly that means, but from the name, it sounds like something really grand. And a tourist-magnet.
The foundation stone for this Raja Marga was laid in August 2010. We are now in 2014 and it is unlikely that the Raja Marga will be completed for this Dussera…er, I mean tourist season.
Then there are overflowing drains, resulting in a delicious monsoon special cocktail of sewage water being mixed drinking water. Talking of drinking water, when it doesn't rain, many parts of the city have no water, drinking or of any other kind.
Did I mention unplanned, uncontrolled urban sprawl? .
Or shrinking lung space?
Or deforestation of Chamundi Hill that you plan to so prettily light up.
It’s a long list. Some of which the tourists won’t notice. (And after all, not every part of Paris is touristy, is it.) But some of it they will. And this may come in the way of namma Mysooru becoming namma Paris-in-India.
So, dear Mr. Pratap Simha. This cri de couer is not on behalf f us Mysoreans. (See, I’m already speaking French.)
It is not because once Mysore was not just one of the most beautiful but one f the most progressive cities.
It is not because we Mysoreans deserve better
But only because the tourists must come. And Mysore must become the Paris of India