The deafening noise of an earth-mover cuts through the blanket of dust enveloping Museum Cross Road. Dug-up roads, iron rods sticking out from the ground, pile-up of huge pipes, sand and stones welcome commuters on one of Bengaluru's busiest roads which connects Museum Road and MG Road at the heart of the city.
Travelling on the road has turned out to be an obstacle course for people working in the area in the last three months, sometimes quite literally. This is due to the Bengaluru Bruhat Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) taking up works to develop the road in November 2018. The BBMP is relaying the road as part of its TenderSURE project in 20 major roads.
Even though the stretch of road where construction works have been taken up is 400 metres, a six-month deadline has been set for the completion of the project. According to the work order issued by BBMP, Museum Cross Road is being developed at a cost of Rs 4.34 crore.
The contractor responsible for the construction believes that the project is on course to be completed within its target of six months. "There is no delay since the time to complete the project is six months. We have begun work in November so still we have three months left. If things go according to plan, we will finish work by the end of May," says an official working with the contractor who did not wish to be named.
The official further stated that they are tasked with coordinating with different civic bodies to ensure the construction of the road, a process that is cumbersome and time consuming. "This is not an ordinary road since there are live power lines underneath and there are drainage and sewer lines to take note of as well. It is not just the BBMP but there are multiple agencies working to construct the road. We have to ensure that the alignment is right to ensure there is no flooding during monsoon," the official added.
BBMP officials reiterated the claim that the construction works on the road was on track to be completed in the stipulated time-frame and rejected suggestions that the time taken is too long. Speaking to TNM, Basavaraj Kabade,Basavaraj Kabade, Executive Engineer, Project Central, claimed the work will be completed by end of May in spite of the complexities involved. "This will be one of the best roads in the city just like Church Street. There is a lot of work that has to be done both underneath and above the ground. We have to fix the utility lines - we are doing everything from water supply, sewer lines, OFC ducting, power ducting,” Basavaraj told TNM.
Is the road closed for traffic?
He also revealed that despite the request to close traffic on the road, it has been kept open till 10 am since there is a school and post-office nearby. The road works are being carried out during the day while other works related to drainage and sewer are being carried out in the night.
In January, building owners on the road received notices stating that the road will be closed for construction works. However, a conflicting notice stating that the road will only be partially closed was sent out two weeks ago before barriers were set up on the road's entry to Museum Road to stop vehicles from entering.
Currently, the entry into the road from the Church Street side is still open and many two-wheelers were seen treading carefully on the dug-up road on Thursday.
The development of the road comes less than a year after Church Street, which is perpendicular to this road, was revamped. The process of revamping Church Street took more than a year during which time four deadlines were missed after contractors realised that the street was built on a network of drains installed by the British.
Residents, employees inconvenienced
The construction works has inconvenienced people working in and around the area so much that some have begun parking their vehicles at UB City, which is around 1.3 km away. "We have begun parking our vehicles either at the State Bank of India on Museum Road or in UB City. Some have stopped travelling by private vehicles altogether," says a group of employees working at United Breweries, which has an office on this road.
BBMP is looking for oil on Museum road. This road was half decent, until our friends decided to mine it https://t.co/bcyeibWNHb— Danish Sait (@DanishSait) February 20, 2019
Businesses claim noticeable drop in customers
It has also affected businesses operating on the road since customers now have to walk the last few metres to reach establishments located on the road. "Our business has been affected noticeably ever since the works to revamp Church Street was taken up in 2017. Six months after the road was built, construction on Museum Cross Road was taken up. Our customers often have to walk a few hundred metres to reach here and often, they prefer to go to a different restaurant or bar nearby," says a manager of a bar and restaurant located on the road.
Residents in the area however are concerned that if the construction works are not completed within the stipulated deadline of May 2019, then the condition of the road could be worsened by rain in the monsoon season. This would further compound the problems of thousands of people using the road on a daily basis.
With inputs from Soumya Chatterjee.