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Chola dynasty-built lake revived

Good morning, Bengaluru!

☔ Today’s weather: Precipitation is still high as all signs point to scattered thunderstorms throughout the day.

🏞️ Rescuing a Chola dynasty lake

The Singena Agrahara lake (also known as Narayanaghatta Kere) has successfully been revived with public money and a can-do attitude!

Story so far: The Singena Agrahara lake in the Anekal taluk is believed to have been built by Rajaraja 1, one of the emperors of the Chola dynasty. Over the years, the 106-acre water body had been encroached upon and became a popular spot to dump the trash. Last year, farming had also been taken up along the lake.

  • Things seemed to be going from bad to worse when lake activist-turned-assistant commissioner Captain Santhosh Kumar (Retd) started the ‘Lake Protection in Anekal Taluk’ in 2021.

What happened: More than 6.5 acres of the lake have been encroached upon. The district administration quickly started removing all the stormwater drains to ensure the free flow of water.

  • By June 2021, the rejuvenation process had started. In the next 120 days, the lake was cleaned and the water was looking normal again.
  • What’s even better is that not a single tree was cut down for the process, and it was all done with funds collected from the public.

🏠 Buying a home only gets harder

If you are privileged enough to even consider buying a home in this economy, think again. It seems to be an uphill task for everyone involved.

Story so far: The inflation rates, the war in Ukraine, coal shortages, increased fuel prices and hiked repo rates have all been used to justify the crazy costs of the housing market right now. Even builders in the apartment sector have started demanding additional charges to the tune of ₹100 to ₹200 per sq ft.

  • People have started complaining about builders violating their agreements with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) but the latter seems to have a justification for everything. 
  • The hope is that the government would intervene to stabilise the prices a little bit.

The builders’ side: According to Suresh Hari, chairman, Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI)-Bengaluru, inflation in the labour market and construction materials have increased input costs by 30-40%. The last 5 months alone saw the price of construction materials rise by 13-63%.

Buying a house was never meant to be cheap but this is getting out of hand!

💰 EMIs for school fees

Non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and fintechs are raking in the money as parents opt for EMIs to pay the steadily increasing school fees.

Story so far: At the beginning of the pandemic, fintech companies started partnering with schools. Turns out, their exorbitant fees and no space for flexibility in payments made them the perfect place for alternative systems.

  • Generally, these apps set up EMI options for struggling parents with zero percent interest and charge the schools for their service.
  • Unfortunately, some parents have complained that the schools were turning in their data to these companies without informing them first.

How it works: When the schools partner with these companies, they turn over the data of those families that have failed to pay on time. The parents are then approached and they send in their Permanent Account Number (PAN) and other information.

  • This helps the fintechs see if they qualify for an EMI or not based on their CIBIL score and income.
  • The companies then pay that student’s fee in lump sum to the school and the parents can pay those companies back in instalments.

The problem is that this just becomes another way to entrap families into more debt.

🚉 Our neglected railway stations

While the city is busy fawning over the new world class railway stations, a lot of our old ones have remained neglected since the pandemic.

Story so far: The Hoodi halt railway station was built to resounding hurrahs in 2016. In 2019, a foot over bridge was built for better accessibility, and the IT crowd went wild. But since the pandemic, with everyone moving and staying indoors, railway authorities have become rather negligent.

  • The station has become covered in litter as the authorities haven’t done anything to clean the trash collected.
  • Since the three toilets at the station remain locked, people are compelled to use a vacant spot adjacent to it as an open toilet.
  • The catering stall and drinking water facilities are all locked for reasons only the officials seem to understand.

Why it matters: The Hoodi halt railway station is just one of the many stations left neglected in Bengaluru. Railway activists point out that projects like foot over bridges have been left incomplete in various stations which threatens public safety. Even the ticket counters don’t open on time. Clearly, we’ve got to save our stations!

🎖️ Bengaluru’s oldest war memorial

(Image credits: Wilhelm Tell DCCXLVI, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The central business district holds several little gems that establish the rich history of the city. One of them is the Sappers War Memorial at the junction of Brigade Road.

Story so far: Built in 1928, the Sappers War Memorial was erected for 449 soldiers of the 1st Madras Pioneers regiment. This was built to honour the soldiers that lost their lives in battle during World War I. The soldiers fought in battle zones in Burma, East Africa, Afghanistan and the North-West Frontier Province.

  • The cenotaph is pretty similar to the one designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in Whitehall, London. In fact, most colonies erected similar cenotaphs based on Lutyens’ design to commemorate their fallen soldiers of the Great War.

The Madras Pioneers: The 1st Madras Pioneers regiment was raised in 1780 by the British. They were based in Bengaluru in the 1800s and were later absorbed into the Madras Sappers – also known as the Madras Engineers Group – in 1933.

  • The Madras Pioneers even get a quick reference in Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story The Adventure of the Empty House. Sherlock Holmes’ antagonist was said to have served in the 1st Bangalore Pioneers, a fictional regiment based on the Madras Pioneers.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow!

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