Bengaluru’s Outer Ring Road’s broken infrastructure is why it floods

The Outer Ring Road (ORR), which connects Bengaluru to its tech parks outside of Bengaluru, was severely flooded on August 30.
Outer Ring Road flooded with rain water
Outer Ring Road flooded with rain water
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Bengaluru’s Outer Ring Road (ORR), which connects the city to its tech parks, was brought to a standstill on August 30. Traffic crawled near RMZ Ecospace in Bellandur as the stretch was flooded following incessant rains. But the flooding in ORR is hardly a new phenomenon. Back in 2017, TNM had reported how ORR was inundated with just 2mm of rainfall. Little has changed in five years. “ORR floods every single year during the monsoon season and no one bothers to fix the underlying issue,”  said Nagesh Aras, an activist.

Lack of infrastructure is one of the biggest reasons why ORR floods every year. The development in the area has far outstripped its infrastructure. Nagesh explained that the stormwater drains in the area lack capacity as rainwater is mixed with sewage. “In 2005, as many as 110 villages were merged into Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike(BBMP) but the city corporation hasn’t bothered to link the villages with the city’s sewage system,” said Nagesh.  As a result, the stormwater drains fail and the raw sewage mixed with rainwater spills out onto the Outer Ring Road.

Another reason is that there are no culverts along the stretch. “There are quite a few engineering flaws in the development of the road. Most importantly the lack of culverts. The road acts like a dam to the flowing water and with the lack of culverts, the rainwater and sewage water have no other way to flow but to be accumulated, leading to waterlogging,” pointed out Nagesh.

Ramprasad, convenor of Friends of Lakes, a citizens’ group, blamed the road consultants, engineers, and committees that approved these projects. He said, "There are flaws in the engineering designs. No protocol has been followed by the concerned officials.”

Most people, he said, are quick to call it a natural calamity so they can wash their hands off any responsibility. Ramprasad said, “This is totally man-made and due to the greed of the BBMP employees.”

Nagesh also pointed to the fact that the flyover on ORR doesn’t have any water harvesting system. “Despite being included in the flyover’s design, it doesn’t possess a rainwater harvesting system. As a result, the rainwater flows downwards on both sides of the flyover.”

The ORR stretch near RMZ Ecospace was waterlogged for three days, with water slowly receding despite the rains abating. Nagesh explained that the reason for this is that a camber is provided to the road when it’s constructed. Camber is the cross slope that is provided to raise the middle of the road surface in order to drain off rainwater from the surface of the road. Due to the camber, water accumulates on right and left lanes of ORR, leaving only the middle lane suitable for vehicular movement. This is why traffic continued to crawl even after the rains let up.

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