Boomtown rap

The day Bangalore almost drowned

It is an irony that Bangalore, which offers IT solutions to the rest of the world, cannot manage the damage resulting out of heavy rains.

 |  Boomtown rap  |  4-minute read |   30-09-2014
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A record rainfall of 130mm on September 25 was sufficient to expose the inability of the Greater Bangalore City Corporation (GBCC), in which the BJP is in power, to handle the crisis.

Had it rained for a few more hours, a Srinagar-like situation would have resulted in Bangalore. All poorly constructed roads, underpasses, localities in low-lying areas and roads without drains, were flooded with water.

Sewage from underground drainage overflowed leading to health concerns. Vehicles, including buses, were submerged in water with scores of people miraculously saving their lives in the unexpected heavy downpour. It is an irony that Bangalore, which offers IT solutions to the rest of the world, cannot manage the damage resulting out of heavy rains.

The GBCC, which is often termed as the most corrupt organisation in Karnataka, is immune to any kind of reforms, be it administrative or development-related. In every work the GBCC undertakes, there is neither benchmarking of standards nor following of the set norms.

For instance, it deliberately undertakes de-silting of storm water drains only a few days before the onset of monsoon. A job that needs to be completed during summer gets delayed because of what the GBCC terms lack of funds.

Arterial roads are tarred every year and shoulder drains, which are supposed to lead water to the drains during rains, are covered, leading to flooding and traffic jams during peak hours.

Last year, when an upright traffic cop pointed out the GBCC's lapse, which led to traffic chaos on Old Airport Road (because of water logging due to incessant rains), she was reprimanded by her higher-ups for poking her agency.

The lady cop was right in every manner - the absence of shoulder drains in one of the busiest roads in Bangalore created a traffic gridlock for more than four hours, which spilled over to the rest of the city.

The GBCC is one of the largest civic agencies in the country and its lack of long-term vision for the city has made the people suffer. Ten years ago when the SM Krishna-led Congress government was in power, it was clearly mandated that the GBCC's focus was to ensure the upkeep of the city while the Bangalore Development Authority would be infrastructure projects. Krishna even constituted the Bangalore Agenda Task Force, comprising experts from various fields, to guide the systematic growth of Bangalore. That system was in practice till Krishna was in power.

As soon as Congress lost power in the state, the GBCC did not waste time in keeping away the experts from city planning. Contesting for the GBCC councillor post is considered more prestigious than of an MLA in Bangalore.

MLAs, who have lost Assembly elections, have stuck to their councillor chairs, indicating the power they wield in the city. Every councillor is allocated funds for their constituency (ward), but it often goes unaccounted for because of lack of transparency.

The sense of ownership for the city is often dumped on the Mayor, who enjoys a tenure of just 12 months. The BJP is counting its days in power in the GBCC because its term is coming to an end.

The Congress, which is in power in the state, too seems to be in no mood to financially strengthen the GBCC. The Congress is keen on grabbing power at the GBCC a few months down the line and may be citizens can hope for better infrastructure next year.

Writer

Aravind Gowda Aravind Gowda @aravindshiv

The writer is a publicist, film scribe and political journalist.

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