Frustrated by BBMP’s apathy, Bengaluru residents protest by desilting road themselves

The residents undertook the cleaning drive under the slogan "Namma road, namma responsibility" (Our road, our responsibility).
Residents de-silting the road
Residents de-silting the road X/@BalagereConnect
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When they were supposed to take a rest after a long week, IT employees and residents were instead forced to clear the sand and dust accumulated on the Balagere road on Sunday, June 23, which posed a threat to motorists. Frustrated by the indifference of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials who ignored the repeated complaints raised by them, nearly 40 residents of Balagere decided to stage a protest by cleaning the road themselves. 

As part of the protest residents of Balagere, primarily IT professionals including children, cleared the sand on the two-kilometre stretch between Varthur police station and Varthur railway underbridge. Armed with garden tools the residents cleared 20 sacks of sand and dust.

The protest was done under the slogan "Namma road, namma responsibility" (Our road, our responsibility). The clean-up also saw locals holding pamphlets with the hashtag "#BBMP Election" as they worked. 

 According to the residents the road was prone to accidents in which two-wheeler riders were frequent victims. The residents were also outraged after a two-wheeler accident on the road last week which had claimed the life of a 28-year-old IT employee. 

“People on social media frequently spoke about how much sand was accumulated on this road and how it is affecting the two-wheelers, but the authorities did nothing about it and then this accident took place. This enraged us. What drove us to conduct this cleaning drive was that we as a society respect and value life, but when the administration doesn’t respect that and help us, we took it upon ourselves,” Yogendran G, a resident of Balagere who was part of the protest, told TNM.

Yogendra added that the desilting was carried out on a 7 to 10 feet portion of the road where the most silt had accumulated. This portion also happened to be where the accident had taken place. He said that due to the accumulation of the silt, 30% of the road was not being used by vehicles, which also added to their traffic woes. 

Sheetal Kulkarni, another resident, said they have been fighting regarding the maintenance of Balagere road for more than 5 years but were met with official apathy. “We have written several letters to the former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, current Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah and also the sitting MLAs and deputy chief ministers in the past 5 years. All we received are automated responses and nothing else,” he said. 

The residents say that a member of the Mahadevapura Task Force, chaired by MLA Manjula Limbavali, claimed that the Balagere Road does not come under BBMP’s annual maintenance contract. While others at the BBMP claimed that there were not enough funds to take up maintenance of the road.

Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar reacted to the cleaning drive after news reports of the drive emerged and the residents' pictures were widely circulated on social media. “Sometimes some lessons turn out to be the best learnings, and taking cue from the incident of Bengaluru residents cleaning Balagere Road, the concerned officials at BBMP have been personally instructed by me to take immediate action. The comfort and safety of our Bengaluru residents is of priority to us, and therefore BBMP has been also instructed to ensure that no such incident is ever repeated again in the future,” he said.

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