Rains will expose SWD encroachments again: residents

A view of Rajakaluve which is filled up plastic and other waste meterial next to KPWD Quarters, Koramangala.

Encroachment of Stormwater Drains (SWDs) is a longstanding issue in Bengaluru. Fuelled by the callousness of successive governments and civic bodies in enforcing mandated rules and regulations, it continues to fester. Whatever is the cause, every year the city suffers, especially during monsoons. Many areas are flooded as the rainwater has nowhere to go.

Despite the demolition drive to clear all encroachments near stormwater drains a couple of years ago, it now looks like we are back to square one. There have been considerable rains again this year and the threat of flooding looms large.

Amutha Manavalan, an academician who lives in Pulakeshinagar, says many apartment complexes and builders blatantly encroach upon drains. This process begins with the dumping of debris on SWDs. Once they dry out the drain, the boundary is pushed.

The true magnitude of this problem, according to Manavalan, does not become visible until the monsoon when there is no place for the water to drain out. The water stagnates on the road and further rain worsens this problem. Questioning the officials and authorities has not brought about much change in attitude, he laments.

Vishwa, who lives on Bannerghatta road, says that due to the ongoing metro work, the scene is already pretty bad. Plus it is difficult to make out the encroached land from its surroundings. The authorities should have a better idea of what land has been encroached upon and clear it to benefit citizens, he notes.

Another problem is that when the civic authorities remove the silt from drains, they just pile it up beside the drains. “When it rains again, all of it just goes back inside. What is the use of this clean-up exercise if they don’t get rid of the silt? It is a complete waste of time, effort and the tax-payers money. I already have a back ache. When it rains, they obscure potholes and just piles up the misery.”

Vijaya Chikkor, a working professional from Sarjapur Road, has this to say: “In my area, there is no proper SWD. The Rajakaluves (SWDs) are completely encroached. The biggest of the biggest builders do this with blatant disregard. Even when the BBMP gets a stay, it is only a temporary fix and the problem persists. It is all an eyewash. They don’t touch the big builders. They are all on the Rajakaluve. Forget the buffer zone, they have built right on top of the Rajakaluves.”

Padma Suraj, a homemaker, also from Sarjapur Road, notes that the concreting of the road is not helping in any way as it ensures that the rainwater goes nowhere, stagnating on the road and causing trouble.

She adds, “We are tired of waiting for the BBMP to solve this mess. We have been regularly taking these problems to our corporator and area MLA. We have a forum for Bellandur-Sarjapur road residents. Our elected representatives keep saying they will look into it. Only God knows when.”

Divya, a teacher who lives in Banashankari, says, when it rains in plenty, the SWD is of not much use. “The desilting of drains is not happening. But in my area the encroachment is not much,” she adds.Adugodi ward 147 corporator, Manjula Sampath Kumar claims there are not many encroachments in her ward, at least during her tenure. “Whatever encroachments were there earlier have already been cleared. We have also increased the height of stormwater drains in our ward so that if the rainfall is high, more amount of water can be contained. We will ensure that no encroachments happen so that it benefits the people,” she assures.

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Rains will expose SWD encroachments again: residents

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