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Roads to an unhealthy life

Harini Naidu, Dec 5 2017, 20:42 IST

Air pollution has become the hallmark of Outer Ring Roads (ORRs) in Bengaluru. Of late, many infrastructure projects are coming up on these roads and are adding to the current problem. People living in and around the area, corporate employees and even traffic cops are facing the ill-effects of this.

Shalinee, an equity expert working in Ecospace says, "It has become an ordeal to travel to work on this route. It is highly polluted. During the rains, it gets even more difficult to travel as the road in front of my office submerges in drainage water, which is an outflow of the Bellandur stormwater drain. People find it difficult to step on the road. We have to enter our offices through this water."

Says Ravi Kumar, a resident of Bellandur, "People in my apartment get paid water tankers for drinking as we cannot consume the water here. Not only that, at times the stormwater drain stinks badly. Last year, a multi-storey building collapsed next to our apartment. Kids had to suffer a lot due to the dust from that and for months, it was not cleared."

Indudhar Chandrappa, a corporate communications manager, says, "I travel from Nagasandra to Bellandur for my work. Despite the work-from-home option, I feel as if my throat is burning every time I come this way. I have started to commute in cabs but when I return through Yemlur, I can feel the toxicity of the stormwater drain. I wonder about the state of those people staying in the area."

"Let alone Bellandur, even if I take the Inner Ring Road via Indiranagar to Marathahalli, I see a similar situation. This is probably because of the companies that are right in the city. Earlier, all the industries used to be on the outskirts of the city. If the town planning had been done in such a way that these companies were on the outskirts as a separate structure, we might not have faced such a condition," he says.

When asked if there are rising cases of respiratory issues among people working and living in these areas, Dr Anoo Chengappa, a general physician at Dr Chengappa M M Clinic, says, "There is definitely an increase in people coming in with respiratory issues to our clinics. Traffic pollution is the main cause of it. Students are more affected than elders. Those commuting on these roads and living near Ring Roads are in a bad shape."

"From the last three to five years there has been an increase in such cases. Though water contamination is also high in these areas, it is still a solvable issue. We can ask people to boil the water and drink. But what are we going to do about the air?" she asks

At present, she is advising people to use anti-pollution masks as the air quality has gone down in such areas. The issue is similar on Goraguntepalya-Hebbal stretch.

Dr Radhakrishna T R of Kusuma Clinic blames it on the traffic and rapid development on ORRs. According to him, even anti-pollution masks are not feasible because people in this part are open to very fine dust and this cannot be solved by using masks.

"Even school children cannot be protected. This is something that the government has to discuss with the industrialists," he says.

"Not only this, many play schools and creches that have tie-ups with the corporates are located on the ORRs. The kids in these playschools or creches are getting affected by asthma and bronchitis infection, thanks to the commute on these polluted roads. Instead, companies can allow employees to place children at the nearby daycare and reimburse the money. This would definitely be a great option," he adds.

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