Torrential rain has lashed Bengaluru for the past two months. The rain has brought with it the realisation that Bengaluru's roads, after almost every bout of rain, will turn into rivers as the city's storm water drain system is an utter mess.
While citizens blame the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike for neglecting its duties, it is also necessary to note that the Palike’s apathy is not the only reason for the horrible state of affairs.
BBMP officials say that the sudden growth in unplanned properties, which have rampantly encroached into the SWDs and their buffer zones, make it difficult for the Palike to desilt the storm water drains.
“There are around 1.5 lakh properties in Bengaluru which have either encroached on secondary rajakaluves (storm water drains) or their buffer zones. The BBMP has identified these properties but the residents have occupation certificates. This then becomes a matter which the Town Planning Department has to solve,” said Shiva Prasad, Technical Engineer, Storm Water Drain Department, BBMP.
“I came to Bellandur 5 years ago. At the time, there were barely any houses except for the a few apartments. With the tech parks and business parks coming up, there has been a huge influx of people to this part of the city. The houses have encroached into buffer zones of lakes and storm water drains. It has been uncontrolled. These are the same people who cry when their homes are flooded with water when it rains,” said Seema, a member of a citizens’ group in Bellandur.
BBMP’s laxity in desilting SWDs
Every year, like clockwork, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike promises to desilt these drains. Unsurprisingly, the Palike never keeps its promises.
There are 633 interconnected storm water drains spanning a total of 842 km. Out of this – primary SWDs run across 416 km and the remaining 462 km are the secondary SWDs.
According to BBMP Engineer DS Suryanarayana of the Storm Water Drain Department, the Palike has desilted on 69 km of SWDs till now.
Cosmopolitan Bengaluru lacks a proper sewage system
From being called the poor man’s hill station to the IT capital, Bengaluru’s growth rate has been massive. Shockingly, the city still does not have a proper sewage system. BBMP officials say that the flaws lie in the planning.
“The BWSSB (Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board) has failed to construct sewage lines which lead up to an STP. They have been allowing all the sewage to flow though the SWDs. Every time we begin desilting work, in a month or two, we will be back to where we began. How can desilting work be done when the SWDs are flowing with sewage. When we question BWSSB they retaliate by saying - should people in Bengaluru stop using toilets then? These drains are supposed to be dry during summer months and only rain water must flow through them,” Suryanarayana added.
According to BWSSB Chief Engineer Kemparamaiah, the agency is now in the process of creating a proper sewage system. “The plan is to ensure that none of the sewage flows into the storm water drains. The sewage will be treated at STPs and this will take about four years to accomplish,” he added.
BBMP officials also blame the lack of coordination between the various civic agencies for the failure of the system.
"How can civic management work be done when there is no coordination. Believe it or not, a co-ordination committee headed by the Karnataka Chief Secretary was formed only six months ago. This has heads of BBMP, BWSSB, Bescom, BDA and other civic agencies. It also has Chief Engineers of these agencies. This committee became active only four months ago," Shiva Prasad added.