Bengaluru's waterlogging problem is here to stay and it’s everyone’s fault

While BBMP and BWSSB have reneged on many promises, citizens too have to take a share of the blame.
Bengaluru's waterlogging problem is here to stay and it’s everyone’s fault
Bengaluru's waterlogging problem is here to stay and it’s everyone’s fault
Written by:

It was a watery nightmare that many Bengaluru residents woke up to in the early hours of Monday night. Multiple streets were submerged, in some cases up to heights of five feet, and numerous homes were flooded with rain water as well.

Bengaluru received 14.4 cm of rain on Monday night, with the Bilekelahalli area in the south of the city receiving an astonishing 18.4 cm of rain.

What has particularly irked citizens is that the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board had just recently announced that all necessary arrangements have been made to avoid water logging.

When the city had faced a heavy bout of rain in July, which had uprooted 117 trees and also led to a man’s death, the civic agencies had said that flood-prone areas were being identified to ready the city for the monsoon.

Monday’s rains, however, completely belied these assurances, as several low-lying areas in south and south-eastern Bengaluru were severely water logged.

“No matter how many pronouncements the BWSSB and BBMP make, the problem of waterlogging and flooding will not stop until the elephant in the room is addressed. The biggest problem faced by the city is that the storm water drains are being used as sewage disposal systems. Unless this is sorted, no matter how many calls to save lakes and rejuvenate wetlands are made, it will all be for naught,” said Naresh Narasimhan architect and member of Citizens of Bengaluru.

But for such problems to be addressed, he said, political accountability is necessary.

“BWSSB is an agency which has no permanent Chairman. This agency must be broken down and the sewage management must be handed over to the BBMP. The Palike has corporators who can be held accountable. The BWSSB has no political representation. The problem must be addressed by the Chief Minister. With government intervention, the BWSSB can be broken up. After responsibilities are handed over to BBMP, it will end the phase where the agencies blame each other,” Narasimhan added.

According to Kemparamaiah, Chief Engineer of BWSSB, the problem also lies with the citizens.

“We have plugged many sewage lines which have been connected to the storm water drains but they keep cropping up again. The people are resorting to illegally connecting their sewage system to the rajakaluves in order to avoid paying the sewage charges to the BWSSB. No matter how many times these are plugged, they come back again,” Kemparamaiah added.

In June, Bengaluru Mayor G Padmavati, had said that the Palike had identified 200 flood-prone areas where sandbags would be placed along the storm water drains to prevent flooding.

However, Ramprasad, an environmental activist with the citizens’ group Friends of Lakes, said that these measures have not been carried out and are largely useless.

“The problem is that these storm water drains are clogged with garbage and sewage throughout the year. When there are heavy rains, there is no space for rainwater to flow through them and results in waterlogging. BBMP has said that it is in the process of removing encroachments on rajakaluves (storm water drains) but that’s just a lie,” Ramprasad said.

According to a senior BBMP official, most of the tributaries of rivers in Bengaluru have been converted to storm water drains. And these in turn have been turned into sewage channels and garbage dumps.

“The rajakaluve near Mysuru Road is actually where the Arkavathy, Vrishabhavati and Panini tributaries meet. The BBMP must start cleaning up the rajakaluves and also the rivers. They must be differentiated,” he said.

However, he also added, “But it is not in our purview as BWSSB is responsible for sewage management.”

Naresh Narasimhan said that such blame games and shifting of responsibility regularly occur between the BBMP and the BWSSB. “The BBMP and BWSSB will keep passing the buck to each other. The BBMP had said that the storm water drains are being cleaned and that they have desilted the rajakaluves and lakes. Where did all that silt go? It is still sitting in these drains and has clogged our rainwater disposal system,” he said.

Ramprasad said that besides separating sewer lines from storm water drains, the BBMP must also identify flood mitigating lakes in the city and properly connect rajakaluves to these lakes.

“Demolishing entire residential areas is not practical, but the sewer system can be separated from the drains and these rajakaluves can lead up to existing lakes. The lakes, in turn, can have fuse gates to allow water flow to the rivers. These lakes will then act as flood mitigators and help eliminate the problem of water logging,” Ramprasad added.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute