"Instead of spending money on temporary measures, permanent solutions must be found,” activists say.

Will BBMPs plan for monsoons work or is Bengaluru headed for another disaster File photo
news Monsoon Tuesday, June 05, 2018 - 08:47

Pothole-riddled roads, sewage-infested lakes, stinking primary drains, slushy garbage floating on the sides of the roads and people buying boats to navigate roads which have turned into rivers. This was Bengaluru in a nutshell after the monsoon had wreaked havoc in the city last year. This year, however, the civic body – Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike claims it is monsoon ready.

The BBMP, on Monday, met with Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to discuss its “Monsoon Management Plan” and the temporary measures it has taken to avoid another disaster.

Civic officials claim that work on desilting, remodelling storm water drains, filling up potholes and setting up of crisis management centres are underway and everything possible is being done to avoid severe flooding.

“We have been very cautious this year and work is being carried out on a war footing. Work started months before the monsoon, so we can be prepared for the heavy rains,” said Bettegowda, Chief Engineer of the Storm Water Drains (SWD) Department.

What is the BBMP’s plan?

The BBMP has set up 63 temporary control rooms, in addition to the nine existing ones, to deal with monsoon-related complaints. Palike officials will be available from 6am to 6pm and their mobile numbers have been uploaded on the BBMP website. 

It has set up 21 teams to assist in pruning trees and also attend to calls related to incidents of trees falling during the monsoon. Officials have been instructed to remove fallen branches within three hours.

BBMP has also set up a temporary disaster management cell with each of the 198 wards being given Rs 20 lakh to Rs 30 lakh, depending on whether it is located in a low lying area or not.

Potholes and maintenance of roads

BBMP officials claim that its engineers are surveying the roads to identify potholes and fill it up. According to the figures provided by the Palike, 5,800 potholes have currently been identified.

“We are still conducting surveys in many areas but till now we have identified 5,800 potholes. We are filling it up as and when we identify it. It is an ongoing process. For the last month or so, we had to stop the work because of election duty. Now that our staff if free, the work is being carried out smoothly,” said Madhu Kumar, Assistant Executive Engineer, BBMP Engineering Department.

However, residents allege that no work on potholes has been carried out.

“Before the elections, tar was laid on the arterial roads and the interior ones were ignored. Even now, the road near Doddenakundi flyover is a death trap. There is no road in Mallurhalli and it is just a slush pit waiting for a disaster to happen. It was the same last year as well,” said Zibi, a member of Whitefield Rising.

Residents of KR Puram day they are also facing the same problem, especially in TC Palya, Anandapura and Basavapura areas.

According to Purushottam, President of KR Puram Rising, even the roads laid before elections have been damaged after the few bouts of rains the city experienced.

“Not a single person has come to survey the area. No pothole covering work is being done. In some areas, there are no roads only. How will they cover up potholes when there are no roads?” Purushottam questioned.

Similar complaints have come in from people in Nayandahalli, Rajarajeshwarinagar, Koramangala, Indiranagar, Shathinagar, Begur, HSR Layout, Nagarbhavi, Gurappanapalya and Wilson Garden areas.

Desilting and remodelling of Storm Water Drains

Bengaluru has a system of interconnected storm water drains which run up to 842 km. The improper management of these sewage-filled and silt-riddled drains is one of the primary causes for inundation in low-lying areas.

According to BBMP figures, of the 842 km of storm water drains, the Palike has completed work on remodelling and construction of 296 drains; 145 km of drains have been desilted so far. The slow pace of work and progress, has resulted in fear among the residents of a repeat of 2017.

“The BBMP has identified 366 vulnerable spots in the low-lying areas. Since 2016, we have been carrying out work on remodelling and reconstruction of the storm water drain. In the first stage, we were tasked with working on 192 km of storm water drains in vulnerable spots, of which 120 km has been completed,” Bettegowda said.

The BBMP official also admitted to the fact that the Palike looks into the maintenance of only 390 km of the 842 km storm water drain system. Bettegowda says that of the 842 km, some drains have been encroached on, while some have been rendered unmanageable due to the constant inflow of sewage.

“The BWSSB (Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board) has to ensure that the city’s sewage system is set right. They have not done this since the agency’s inception and have conveniently allowed sewage to flow into the storm water drains. How can desilting be done when the kaluve is filled with sewage? That’s why we manage only 390 km of the drains,” Bettegowda added.

BBMP officials also say that the lack of funds has forced them to allot the money to carry out works only in prioritised areas. Since 2016, the BBMP has received Rs 800 crore for the remodelling and reconstruction of the drainage system.

“We have got only Rs 26 crore for maintenance since 2016. Maintenance includes desilting and repairs carried out in broken culverts. This is also another problem,” Bettegowda says.

Tough conditions

Residents of Mahadevapura allege that areas like Doddanakundi, Tubrahalli and Mallurahalli are perpetually prone to waterlogging. “The desilting process is being carried out but the BBMP dumps the silt right next to the road and when it rains, it will go back into the storm water drain. What is the point of wasting time and money to do this?” questioned Sundar, a member of Whitefield Rising.

Credit: Vidyashankar Harapanahalli

Meanwhile, in the South Zone too, residents are facing similar problems. Rudy, a member of Citizens For Bengaluru alleges that in areas like Nagarabhavi and Nayandahalli, the condition of the primary, secondary and tertiary drains is horrifying.

“A few days ago, when it rained, the road near Nagarabhavi was completely inundated. Everyone here refers to the condition there as the Nayandahalli waterfall because that’s what it literally looks like. The worst-hit parts are RPC Layout, Kengeri, Nayandahalli and surrounding areas,” Rudy says.

In the South Zone, the primary drain from RPC Layout to the Gali Anjaneya Temple is covered with concrete, which has made it unviable for desilting. “How can they clean up a drain covered in concrete? They must first open up the drains so that water can go inside it,” he added.

Will BBMP’s plan work?

According to Dr Veena Srinivasan from ATREE, the major problem is the BBMP’s tendency to look for temporary measures rather than permanent ones.

“The big problem is that Bengaluru was paved over too quickly. If there are green spaces, it checks the flow of water and the excess water has room to seep into the ground and evaporate. But Bengaluru has been concretised. The BBMP must look into measures that will ensure that the water has somewhere to flow and not settle for band-aid measures, which are temporary,” she says.

Dr Srinivasan says that the city needs a comprehensive flooding plan and the first step is to ensure a way to account for the water and create spaces where either the water can seep into the ground or accumulate in the lakes.

“Now 90% of the water due to rainfall is lost and not conserved. The BBMP’s plan of building concrete kaluves itself is wrong. For how long can they increase the height of the drains’ walls? The kaluve beds too are made of concrete. How will the water seep into concrete? Instead of spending money on temporary measures, permanent solutions must be found,” she adds.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!

You can also support us with a one-time payment.

Rs 200Rs 500Rs 1500Custom