An interesting scene unfolded at Nizampet in Hyderabad on Tuesday. A group of people, armed with measuring tapes, were crouching down on the road and measuring – wait for it – the dimensions of potholes there.
Led by Srinivas Velaga, a BJP member, some members measured potholes on the road near the Sanghamitra School. Srinivas, who is also a resident of the area, told TNM, “The road is narrow. The Municipal Administration and Urban Development Principal Secretary came a few months ago and said the road will be expanded, but nothing has happened on that front. A drainage line nearby often overflows, spilling sewage on to the road. The condition is quite bad.”
He added that the biggest pothole in the stretch, where they held their protest, was three metres wide. Another one was half a foot deep, Srinivas said. “I tried contacting the concerned engineer regarding the potholes at the time, but did not receive a response,” he added.
Nizampet road which comes under Hydernagar division of GHMC is battered and people are suffering each day.— Srinivas Velaga (@velagasrinivas) February 18, 2020
KTR Sir, This is your adopted division and yet this is the situation. Potholes 3 metres wide and a half feet deep @KTRTRS @Sardarsingh_1 @FITHyd pic.twitter.com/VS1FQve94b
While this form of ‘protest’ to highlight the condition of the pothole-ridden road was unique, residents in different Indian cities have often resorted to creative protests that grab eyeballs to highlight the pothole problem. Here is a list of some other unique protests.
1. ‘Pothole trees’
Residents of Hyderabad’s Peerzadiguda area in November last year decided to ‘plant trees’ in the potholes on a road in the vicinity. This was done by a group of five people to highlight the issue as they were tired of government apathy. However, they didn’t put actual saplings in the potholes, choosing branches of trees instead so that they could be disposed of easily before the repair work.
2. ‘Moonwalking’ on Bengaluru’s cratered road
Who can forget the viral video of an ‘astronaut’ moonwalking in Bengaluru? Baadal Nanjundaswamy, a Bengaluru-based artist, has been long turning the city’s potholes into thought-provoking works of art.
In the most recent instance, he had an actor suit up as an astronaut, pretend to moonwalk on the pothole-riddled Tunganagar Main Road in September 2019 because that’s just how ‘cratered’ it was with potholes. A video of the same went viral, drawing international attention, with people saying that he needed to come to their cities to recreate this – because they had potholes too.
In another instance, someone took the word ‘pothole’ quite literally, and placed a pot in a hole on the road in Koramangala to drive the point home.
3. A fishing hole
Activists in Karnataka’s Shivamogga resorted to ‘fishing’ in a pothole in Karnataka’s Shivamogga to highlight just how ‘deep’ the problem runs. Vidyarthi Sangathane members staged this demonstration in October 2019 to highlight the conditions in Durgigudi, Park Extension, Tilak Nagar, and Gandhi Nagar of the district.
4. Long-jumping across potholes
In July 2018, residents and political party members in Mumbai expressed their displeasure over the potholes on roads in a ‘sporty’ way – the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) organised long-jump sessions over large potholes.
Other initiatives around the same time included the Shiv Sena handing out pain relief balms in Kalyan for free to ease the pain of commuters who have to ride on the bumpy roads.
5. Ducks in potholes
Back in 2015, Youth Congress members in Bharanikkavu panchayat in Kerala’s Alappuzha district protested the bad condition of roads by getting live ducks to swim in a large pothole… creating the imagery of a pond.