110 reasons to remain a village

A dug up road in Dasarahalli 

Eleven years ago, when the erstwhile Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) morphed into the massive BBMP with a ‘Bruhath’ tag, hope rose in the horizon for 110 villages on the city’s periphery. Today, that dream of development remains utterly unfulfilled, the residents caught in a twister of unending civic and commute woes.

Trips through the villages, once governed by the Gram Panchayaths, are an education in unfulfilled promises. Towering above broken, potholed roads, apartment blocks have mushroomed everywhere. But lurking behind these structures lies a system without water supply, drainage, garbage collection and proper roads.

Varthur and Gunjur

The Palike’s apathy in providing even the basic civic amenities is clearly visible in the villages that fall under Mahadevapura. Varthur and Gunjur villages near Sarjapura, for instance, still wait in hope that an abandoned 10-year-old road-widening project will be revived.

The existing road from Dommasandra Circle till Varthur Kodi is too narrow to cater to the ever-rising traffic. Residents here had resorted to several protests and hunger strikes to get the road widened. But the Palike drags its feet, citing delay in land acquisition.

Gunjur resident Jagadish Reddy articulates the widespread sense of frustration: “Gunjur is going under tremendous transformation with residential spaces being built. However, public infrastructure such as UGD, Storm Water Drains, roads, water supply, public transport and sewage treatment capabilities are clearly inadequate.”

The frothing Varthur lake and the lagging bridge construction work have only added to the mounting woes here.

Seegehalli’s woes

Seegehalli is another village stuck with damaged roads, marked with potholes and a severe shortage of civic amenities. “The private agencies do their part by digging up the new roads, aware that the authorities are not watching. Also, solid waste management and drainage needs proper planning. Over 2,000 flats have been added in the last few years,” informs Sampath Ramanujan, a civic activist from Seegehalli.

But the immediate focus, he notes, should be on revival of the rajakaluves and lakes in the village limits. The burgeoning garbage yards in the village also need attention. The road issue recurs in Hagadur village, where huge craters have rendered the streets virtually unmotorable. 

Flexboards, banned in the rest of the city, are reappearing on towers and buildings of this village. These are clearly visible on Borewell Road, Outer Circle and Dodsworth Layout. The Palike’s writ does not seem to run here.

Channasandra roads

For Channasandra residents, numerous protests to get their roads and drainages fixed, have invariably reached a dead-end. Complains Arun Gowda, a resident: “A road from Thirumalashettyhalli to Channasandra was repaired by the Palike recently. But the Channasandra Main Road that leads to Hope Farm, and the road to Samethanahalli are in bad shape. They lack street lights too.”

In Bellandur village, residents still talk about the old Gram Panchayath with much fondness. “Whatever you see here, the concrete roads and underground drainage in particular, were laid during the Panchayath era. But under BBMP, even desilting of these drains is not happening properly. When it rains, everything flows out,” rues Anjanamma A, a shopkeeper.

Bellandur water

A resident of the area for over 40 years, Anjanamma agrees there is water supply. “But there is no pressure. Besides, the supply is only for an hour thrice a week,” she says. Sixty-one year-old farmer, Lakshman agrees: “You need to pay the lineman to ensure there is proper supply. This is not how it should be.”

Beyond Mahadevapura zone, in villages under Dasarahalli and Rajarajeshwarinagar, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board (BWSSB) is laying pipelines to supply Cauvery water. As part of this project’s third package, Rs 296.38 crore has been allocated in these two zones. 

Pipelines of Dasarahalli

But pipeline-laying is only one part of the project. Restoring the roads is a critical part, often ignored. BWSSB dug up roads in MHR, MEI, Kirloskar and AGB layouts in Dasarahalli. Pipelines were laid here nine months ago, but the dug-up roads have not been restored. Inevitably, motorists and pedestrians have been left to endure extreme commute woes. 

Residents here are irked by the slow progress of the project. Says Santosh Kumar from AGB Layout, “Dust, damaged roads and potholes are what mark roads in Dasarahalli. The floating dust makes walking through these stretches a challenge. For the past 10 months, BWSSB has been laying the pipeline. I wonder why they require so much time to complete the work.” 

A clear lack of coordination between civic agencies is visible. Notes Govindaraju, a member of MHR Layout Residents Welfare Association: “There has to be some coordination and accountability on the part of the civic agencies to finish the work soon. Water scarcity is the biggest problem in this area, but the way BWSSB is working here is itself a problem.”

Roads in disrepair, erratic or no water supply, streetlight issues, lack of footpath, poor solid waste management... The villages are nowhere near getting a planned city status, a promise that once appeared achievable under the Palike. But no one reckoned that dream would turn a nightmare in 11 years.

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