What is behind bad Bengaluru roads?

Why are our roads so bad? Blame it on BBMP's liberal digging approvals

The BBMP recently allowed the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) to dig roads for laying 1,561 km of underground cables

While the recent incessant rains did have an impact on the roads, much of the damage has been caused by their reckless and repeated digging. Credit: DH Photo

Most roads in the city have become unfit for travel: they are either untarred or filled with potholes and dust. 

While the recent incessant rains did have an impact on the roads, much of the damage has been caused by their reckless and repeated digging by various government agencies and/or private telecom companies. 

And now we have data that shows just how bad the roads have become. Consider this: in the last two years, municipal authorities have given permission for digging a staggering 6,571 km of roads for the purpose of laying underground pipelines or cables. 

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) accounts for the bulk of these road-digging expeditions: it received permission for laying underground water and drainage pipelines on 3,500 kilometres of roads. While the BWSSB had completed about 90% of the work, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) says it hasn’t been able to restore the dug-up roads due to a lack of funds. 

The BBMP recently allowed the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) to dig roads for laying 1,561 km of underground cables. The electricity board, which previously laid cables for 4,500 km, plans to take up fresh works mostly in the city’s outer areas. 

GAIL India has received approvals for laying gas pipelines along 1,510 km of road. Of this, 110 km will be covered by the mainline while the remaining 1,400 km is for distribution lines. 

The BBMP has also been generously approving private companies’ requests for laying optical fibre cables. 

A senior BBMP official defended the approval of such requests, saying these utilities are very much needed for the city. “Once an asphalted road is dug up, it loses its binding, and fixing it does not entirely help. Approvals are given only after a joint inspection of the road. If the road has been asphalted recently, the requests are denied,” the official said. 

Better days ahead? 

With the BBMP council elections to be held soon, officials are planning to asphalt all the bad roads in the next two to three months. About 3,500 km of the roads dug up by the BWSSB — mainly in the outer areas — are likely to be restored by December-end. 

“We have finalised the tenders. Once the state government gives the approval, we will start the work,” said B S Prahlad, chief engineer in the BBMP’s road infrastructure division. He conceded that roads in the outer zones — Mahadevapura, Yelahanka, Bommanahalli and Dasarahalli — are in the worst condition. 

Bescom and GAIL India have been paying the BBMP for restoring the roads dug up by them. “We have laid about 80% of the underground cables. Only the last phase is pending,” said Rajendra Cholan, Managing Director, Bescom. 

BWSSB Chairman N Jayaram said the water board had already handed over 2,800 km of roads to the BBMP for undertaking the restoration work after laying water and sewage pipelines. “Only about 10% of the underground drainage work is pending. We will complete it by March,” he said. 

V K Srivatsa, a resident of Balaji Layout in Hemmigepura, an outer ward, said the roads dug up by the BWSSB two years ago hadn’t been restored as yet. “About 90% of the roads in our locality do not have any tar left. We only hope the BWSSB or any other agency does not dig up the roads once the BBMP restores them,” he said.  

Who dug up our roads? 

* BWSSB: 3,500 km

* Bescom: 1,561 km

* GAIL India: 1,510 km

* Total: 6,571 km

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