HSR Layout residents battle explosions, snakes

No living in peace

The Iblur army base, as seen from HSR Layout. Residents say demolition training is being carried out just behind the clearing in the woods. DH phOTO/Akhil Kadidal

For the residents of HSR Layout’s Sectors 1 and 2, Thursdays usually come with the deafening, roiling noise of explosions from the nearby Iblur army base, which some of the fear will one day cause a building collapse.

This is a problem that goes back to the 1980s when the layout was developed, explained Sadasivayya, a resident of 7th Cross Road in Sector 2, who described the problem as three-tiered.

“First, there is the non-stop use of explosives on Thursdays. Then, there is the fact that the army neglected to erect a blast wall to mitigate the noise, which is directly contributing to the third problem,” he said.

This third problem, according to several residents, involves widespread dumping of garbage on army land by what the president of Sector 1 residents’ welfare association,  Govindaswamy, described as “illegal” restaurants, resulting in the proliferation of rats, dogs, pigs and snakes.

According to Govindaswamy, an estimated 10 to 15,000 people (650 to 700 households) are affected. He added that two complaints to the Ministry of Defence prompted the army to cut down the blasting activities from two days to one. “We live in fear for our lives that one day a building will collapse,” Sadasivayya added.

It is not enough, said Krishna Reddy, who also lives at 31st Main, directly across from the base perimeter. “The detonations cause buildings to shudder and compound walls to develop cracks,” Reddy said.

The Ministry of Defence responded in a mail that the Iblur army training area is primarily used for small arms firing and demolition training. “The scaled-down quantity of explosives, which provide realistic training, are being used and all such training is being carried out away from residential areas,” the mail said.

Prabhakar, of 31st Main in Sector 2, blamed the lack of fencing along the army base with enabling the free movement of animals, especially the venomous Russell’s Viper. Some residents claimed that serpents routinely enter their properties after a heavy downpour.

“Some of us were allotted sites here in the late ‘80s, and we were so desperate to get them, that we took whatever the BDA offered. It was only later that we realised the problems here,” Prabhakar said.

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