Ballari City MLA Somashekara Reddy of the BJP staged a protest on Tuesday after a leakage in the underwater drainage caused water to inundate houses in Ganesh Colony in Ballari city.
Sitting in the courtyard of one of the houses, Somashekara Reddy vented his ire at officials from the city corporation until jetting machines were brought in to pump out the water. "The water level in the houses reached 4-5 feet high. It is an underground drain built in 1978 but now, the population of the city has shot up but the old underground water pipes have not been replaced. Roads have been built over it and this is causing it to block in parts," Somashekara Reddy told TNM.
He decided to stage a protest outside the residence of Hiremath, a retired medical officer, and his wife Indira, also a medical officer. Somashekara sat in protest from 6.30 am till 12.30 pm until the inundated water was cleared. "I was pained to hear about their situation and decided to come to protest here to call for a solution to this problem," said Somashekara Reddy.
Ballari City Corporation Commissioner Tushara Mani acknowledged that the incident in Ganesh Colony pointed to a larger problem facing the city. "The situation is the same across Ballari and it is a genuine problem because the sewer line is over 40 years old. This particular case was severe but we often receive complaints of blockages and we clear it," Tushara Mani said.
Ganesh Colony is one of the older localities in Ballari. Residents of the area say they have often faced similar issues and each time, the city's corporation officials clear the water by deploying jetting machines.
The officials are now planning to proactively find a solution to the problem. "We have earmarked funds to replace the old sewer lines in the city," Tushara added.
Somashekara is the former chairman of the Karnataka Milk Federation. He, along with his brothers Janardhana and Karunakara, wielded significant influence in the state and were given ministerial and board chairman postings when the BJP first rose to power in Karnataka in 2008. However, Somashekara's political fortunes took a hit after Janardhana Reddy was named as the prime accused in the Ballari Mining Scam by the Karnataka Lokayukta in 2011. He was elected as the MLA of Ballari City in the Assembly elections in 2018.