While many of us slept in to start the weekend this Saturday, hundreds of residents from Marathahalli, Outer Ring Road (ORR) and SGR Dental College road and Munnekolala in Bengaluru gathered in large numbers at ORR. Starting around 9am, women, men and children began to form a human chain, which extended up to 2 kilometres in the span of about an hour.
Their demand? “We want basic facilities. Just for the road to be commutable.”
The monsoon of 2017 has been exceptionally bad for Bengaluru, and has left the city with some very bad roads. Residents have been complaining not just about issues in commuting but also the very real danger of accidents (there have been five pothole-related deaths in the city in a fortnight) and illnesses like dengue from mosquitoes breeding in stagnant water.
The silent human chain protest organised by Raghu K Raman of OM (ORR-Marathahalli) Residents Association on Saturday saw 400-500 people turn up, Vaishnavi Gollapudi, a resident of the area for three years, told TNM. People stuck posters to their clothes saying, “We are part of an educated slum managed by the BBMP” and “We need basic amenities: road, water, drain.”
Another man held up a message which would echo with many Bengalureans at this point, “Drains are meant for waste water flow outside the house, not into the house.”
Watch this video which shows the myriad of issues highlighted by residents through their posters:
“We have tried reaching out to authorities… BBMP, BWSSB... They say they will make the repairs but they haven’t. Sometimes they say that they will do so after the monsoon ends,” Vaishnavi says, “But right now the situation is so bad that even cab drivers refuse to come here. Some time ago, one of our residents was told that even the police van can’t patrol here because it is just not possible to commute on the road.”
Vaishnavi tells TNM that the area has always been a neglected one compared to the rest of the city. But this year the monsoon has battered it exceptionally badly. “If you see here, there are many women (homemakers) who have come out on the streets today, because they are the ones who have to spend most time here. And they are tired,” she says.
The citizens held their formation till 12 noon. Their message wasn’t a hefty one. “We don’t want anything fancy. We just want the basics of what has been promised to us,” Vaishnavi says.