Monsoon is coming! Are you ready, BBMP?

Every year, lack of planning during the monsoon brings the city to its knees. This year, in particular, the BBMP’s claim of having been ‘busy with election duty’ sounds an ominous precursor to the coming rains. The Palike, however, says it is prepared, with storm water drains de-silted and protected from solid waste by high walls. There are tried-and-tested systems in place and a number of new technologies the BBMP can put to use but never does as complaints and suggestions continue to fall on deaf ears.  Why should we have to settle for hoping for the best, asks Nikhil Gangadhar.

The rains of the past couple of weeks may have cooled the city and given Bengalureans a much needed respite from the heat,  but as usual they have  left it in a mess with clogged drains, choked sewage pipes and waterlogging making people’s lives miserable as always.

Worst of all, potholes have re-emerged on roads that were not too long ago asphalted, revealing the shoddy work of the BBMP and recalling the huge craters that the last monsoon left behind and the consequent accidents that claimed lives of motorists and bikers.

Shanthi Nagar Bus Stand.Shanthi Nagar Bus Stand.

Among the areas worst hit by the current pre-monsoon showers are Ulsoor,  Koramanagala, HSR Layout, Ramamurthy Nagar main road, K.R. Puram, Wilson Garden, Bannerghatta main road, Vivekanagar, Shanthi Nagar, Kalasipalya, Okalipuram and their surroundings.

The flooding was so severe in parts of Ulsoor that Mr  Gopal Krishna, who lives in the area, had to move  to the first floor of his house to escape it. “ The recent showers of April and May have again caused waterlogging  in our area. We have complained several times about it in the past, but no one has come to our rescue.  When we ask the BBMP officials to clean the drains, they claim  they are cleaned regularly but it is the people who dump garbage into them. So even now if it rains for over 20 minutes, water begins to enter the houses in our area and we don’t think either the government or the BBMP will do anything to help us.  Our only option is to shift to a different area,” he says gloomily.

Waterlogging in K.R. Puram in 2017.Waterlogging in K.R. Puram in 2017.

Mr Mohammed Ali, a cloth merchant and resident of Ambedkar Nagar in Ramamurthy Nagar,  says every time it rains, he prays for it to stop, as it’s hard to keep draining the house of the water mixed with sewage that enters it.
“The entire house stinks and we need at least a week to  clean it. We have been repeatedly complaining to the BBMP but not one official has visited the area,” he complains, adding that the local corporator appears helpless too. “The corporator tells us that he has informed the BBMP officials about the problem,.but this doesn’t seem to be helping. All we are asking is that the storm water drain on the main road should be cleaned and the outlets, which are usually filled with debris , cleared frequently, so that the rain water runs off  instead of  flooding the houses. But they cannot do such a simple thing.We feel hopeless,” Mr Ali laments.

But ask a senior officer of the BBMP about the people’s complaints and he claims the civic agency is already on the job  of cleaning the drains and the work is still in progress. “The potholes issue is also being looked into. The mayor has directed all the zonal officers to ensure that every pothole is covered with quality material. We will ensure  there are no potholes before the monsoon begins.We are working towards a pothole -free city,” he insists.

Lesson learned, we are ready: BBMP
With the city already suffering the effects of the pre-monsoon showers on its drains and roads, Bengalureans are shuddering at the thought of what the coming monsoons will bring although the BBMP claims it has cleaned most of the storm water drains and desilted the smaller drains to ensure free flow of water.

Says a senior officer of the BBMP, “We have learnt from our mistakes of last year and will not repeat them this year. We have been de-silting and cleaning the drains for the last six months and have built high walls along them to prevent people from dumping debris into them. We are sure we will not have floods this monsoon.”

But ask him about the few areas that have already been flooded during the recent rains and he admits that the agency has received complaints about waterlogging in certain areas. “We did an inspection and found the major problem was clogging of drains  due to the dumping of garbage into them by the residents. Although we have asked them not to dump the garbage , they continue doing it and when the drains get blocked and the rain water enters their houses, they blame the BBMP. But we are not responsible as we have cleaned the drains and done our duty. If the public is not helpful, nothing can be done.”

As for the complaints about officers being unresponsive to people’s complaints owing to their preoccupation with election work, he says, “This matter was brought to our notice and it is true the BBMP was roped in for election work. But we had made it clear it to the officers that they should direct the complaints to  other officers as civic problems are our first priority.”  

Another senior officer of the BBMP claims that of the 300 areas that saw flooding and waterlogging  during the last monsoon, around 250  have been attended to and work is in progress in other areas to make sure they don’t meet the same fate this time too. “This monsoon, we are well prepared and are setting up call centres across  all zones so that if any problems arise they can be resolved without  delay,” he assures.

Busy with election duty? Of mixed up priorities, lack of planning and innovation: Rajashekar D S, Urban Expert and President of Citizens for Action Forum
The pre-monsoon showers have definitely created havoc in the city and we have heard that the BBMP claimed its officers were busy with election duty. But we want to know how the BBMP’s work is dependent on the government?  It does not have to wait for its instructions to carry on with its duties. It is fully aware about what happened the last monsoon and should be well prepared for the coming one. Its officers should interact with the people to learn about the ground situation as this could help them deal with the flooding or waterlogging.

Moreover, the BBMP has its own budget which it can make use of to carry out its work without any disruption. Sadly, the potholes are back in the city and its easy to imagine now what quality of  work was done a few months ago. There is a separate cell in the BBMP to monitor such work and it should be checking its quality while it is being carried out by the contractors.

Also, it  should start planning ahead,  desilting the drains in the summer for the coming monsoon. But it doesn’t do this and instead starts the working during the monsoon, which is a waste of resources.

We have suggested the use of different technologies to maintain the drains and cover the potholes, but the BBMP is not willing to consider them.  Ideally, it should go in for new methodologies  which can be long lasting.


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