Manipal: The cost of Urbanisation – Prajakta Prabhu

You can bring a revolution 2020, make human more humane, make politics more viable too . But nature once lost cannot be replenished in its original beautiful form.

What is that first thought that climbs up the ladder in your head when you think of having a whole evening to yourself? Relaxing and reflecting on your life perhaps? For most of us, the thought of a walk along the serene windy roads of end point, or that of reading a book, lazing around on the picturesque Kaup beach will be appealing.

I hadn’t been to end point in a very long time. But i did. Now. 2 years ago, even though there were just as many people, just as much of urbanism, Manipal was a town. Just the tiny little one we students loved. Still do, but looking at end point now, comparing it to the first time I’d gone there, I see everything so different.

Reality check – civilisation and urbanisation is one thing. Turning the place into a concrete factory is another.

30 nostalgic photos of manipal 1997 to 2001
The most endearing thing about Manipal was not the infrastructure or the clubs/pubs, it was the scenic beauty and the rich thicket of nature, the blanket of greenery in which Manipal was nestled.

I guess people are missing the point here. Every single road I go to nowadays, be it Manipal or on the way to Udupi.. it is construction work ; earth being dug up to make yet more construction sites. It is not just at Manipal, it is the same case everywhere. There are 2 viewpoints to everything – one way you can say that urbanisation is good- more facilities, more entertainment, more everything.
But if yu think another way, the more the facilities, the more you are losing out.

2 years ago endpoint was just acres and acres of open land.. a place where wind used to just blow into your face and all you could see is the deep cliff and the Manipal river glimmering away like liquid gold. How many of us actually got the chance to see that end point? How many of us know why it was called END point? That it was that place from where if you see ahead, it was nothing but stretches and stretches of just forests and rivers..not many, ‘cause now when you go, all you can see is fencing and barbed wires all around – a police HQ standing tall in the same place where we would stand, looking out to see the river flowing away into the wilderness.

It has not been a long time since I have come to Manipal, but even then, I can notice the small changes that have happened over such a tiny span of time. Manipal has become less and less greener over the years. Just 2 years and everything has commercialized. Restaurants have replaced every nook and cranny, institutions creeping up even in the scenic outskirts of the small town.

The most endearing thing about Manipal was not the infrastructure or the clubs/pubs, it was the scenic beauty and the rich thicket of nature, the blanket of greenery in which Manipal was nestled.

As for answering the main question that popped up all these things in my head, is urbanisation costing Manipal its scenic beauty? YES. It is killing it. And it is not only me who thinks so. Its what you can see around. We don’t even need to go look at the places and compare to see the change. The air we breathe is so heavy we can smell the change in it.

All the places that used to bring sheer joy and crystal happiness to your heart are now cold places that are represented by the dull thud you hear in your hearts when you even think of that place. The sunlight that shone like a prism when it hit your eyes after bouncing off the waters of Manipal lake , now  pricks your eyes like a needle when its reflected off the windows of the new hotel just by the lakeshore.

Urbanisation, cosmopolitan atmosphere is all good, but not when it is at the cost of nature. It is not only about how the place looks anymore. Its about how the place feels. Manipal not only looks less greener and but also feels less greener. The days have become hotter and the nights warmer. The rains have become scantier and the heat harsher. Not one year but with a rapid increase each year. Ten thousand reasons spring up in my mind which all point to the impacts that urbanisation is having on the scenic beauty of Manipal.

Who is to be put to blame? The people , for not helping balance concrete and trees ? Or the need, that required for this to happen? Every road in Manipal is now infested with piles .Piles of wood, piles of logs, plies of sand and piles of cement surrounded by puddles of mud. The town where the breeze was fresh and pure is now bathed in air with smoke, smog and cement dust.

In my point of view,  its not urbanisation alone that is costing Manipal its scenic beauty. Urbanisation alone has never caused any harm to any place.  It is always accompanied by one thing – the attitude of the people.  Its only when people do not want to take the responsibility that comes along with urbanisation on their shoulders that it costs the place. If buildings are springing up all around, saplings should also be planted at the same rate. Balancing the ecology and the development is something that should occur side by side.

Looking out of the window in front of me at this very moment, all I can see is the concrete jungle looking back at me with strong, urging eyes, daring me to stop what is inevitable. Civilization encroaching on nature, taking in resources and giving nothing back. Thinking in retrospect, the windy avenues that lined the roads, the open grass fields, the pretty blossoms at the corner of the roads that adorned the place, the plain mud walkways, the clean fresh air.. doesn’t Manipal seem beautiful ? And looking at Manipal now.. the windy roads with complexes on each side, fortified walls around spaces – ready for new construction work, the scarce potted plants, the cemented wide roads and the smoggy air envelope..

Urbanisation has given momentary shine to Manipal, whilst the scenic beauty it once boasted, is fading away with each breath we take.. leaving those memories etched deep into our minds.. time to wake up, don’t you think ?

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  1. I think a tree-plantation drive would do Manipal some good… If one goes back in history, before urbanization touched Manipal, the entire town was a rock. Now at least, there are some trees… Buildings nestled in greenery actually have a quaint look about them.

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