The churning below

The churning below

The churning below

Everybody has a Underground Drainage (UGD) problem. If Bangaloreans on the outskirts are in transition mode, figuring out ways to migrate from decades old sewer pits to newly laid UGDs, core area residents are battling old, corroded pipelines.

And when rains flood the drains, the manholes overflow and contaminate their drinking water, chaos endures. Is there an escape?

The buck stops again at the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB). A senior Board official, however, blames the city’s sudden growth leaving little time for UGD infrastructure to catch up. Earlier, he says, people used to build only the ground floor and had big families. But now, they have split into nuclear families occupying multiple floors on the same building and letting out large volumes of waste water into the same UGD system that existed 30 years ago. 

Twenty years ago, Ravindra Kumar, a resident of Jayanagar, had no problems of sanitary blockage. But now, he has to contend with frequent clogging of drains and overflowing manholes.  “Although the area is very old, it was decent in terms of its basic amenities. But now, the number of houses and population has multiplied and the existing UGD facility is not able to bear the burden,” he notes.

On its part, the BWSSB has been taking up replacement of old sanitary lines as and when the need arises, and in response to frequent complaints.  The Board has also taken up Environment Action Plan (EAP) projects to ensure zero sewage in stormwater drains.
In the newly added BBMP areas, the transition from sewer pits and widespread practice of letting untreated sewage into shoulder stormwater drains has been a slow process.

For the residents of Bommanahalli, Krishnarajapuram (KR Puram), Mahadevapura, Dasarahalli, Yelahanka, Byatarayanapura, Rajarajeshwarinagar (RRNagar) and Kengeri, the linkages to the UGD lines being laid under the Karnataka Municipal Reforms Project (KMRP) offers hope. But with BWSSB outsourcing the last mile connectivity to individual houses, to private contractors, the residents are forced to fork out huge sums.

Affected in the process is the technical expertise required to properly link up the pipes, a critical need to avoid future contaminations and leakages. According to Ramaswamy, Chief Engineer (Projects), BWSSB, most of the pipeline laying work will be completed by March 2014 and re-tendering work by October 2014.

Records show that the Board has completed 95 percent work in Yelahanka, 66 percent in Byatarayanapura, 39 percent in Mahadevapura, 72 percent in KR Puram, 80 percent in Bommnahalli, 53 percent in RR Nagar, 30 percent in Kengeri and 85 percent in Dasarahalli.

As Ramaswamy informs, the contractor in Mahadevapura and RR Nagar backed out after the work was allotted to him.  The Board has now dragged him to court and will be subsequently re-tendering the work.

The long-suffering residents of these outlying areas are not happy with the progress of the work. Anjanappa, Secretary, Ramamurthynagar Residents' Welfare Association complains that the sanitary work has only destroyed their roads and pavements in the area.  “Ever since the work began here, residents had to face many problems. 

The roads were dug up and whenever it rained, it was very difficult to commute.  The work is being carried out in a slow manner. Although many pipes have been laid, the largers ones are still to be lowered into the trenches,” he informs.

Shamanna Reddy, President, Bommanahalli Nagarikara Hitarakshana Samithi points out that during the recent Assembly elections, the UGD laying work was discontinued for more than two months. “The area has some old pipelines, but they are of no use as they get frequently blocked. During rains, it is really bad as the sewage water flows on the road.  Even as the sanitary work has commenced now, the work is being carried out in a slow pace,” he says.

It is the same story in Bhadrappa Layout in Bytarayanapura constituency. KP Subbaiah, a resident, laments that despite paying all kinds of taxes, they were denied essential services. “The UGD work is very slow. The local leaders had assured that the work would be completed before the Assembly elections, but nothing has been done.  The storm water drain is in a very bad shape as residents here are developing all kinds of infections due to the stagnant water in the drains,” says Subbaiah.

In Peenya Industrial Area Phase II, residents are furious with their local leaders for not being proactive in improving the infrastructure in their area.  Jayalakshmi, a resident says, “The UGD work was discontinued during the elections and the roads were dug up.

  When it rained, the whole road was in a mess, making it extremely difficult for people to even walk.  The government has taken up the work, but I do not know when they will complete,” she says, echoing the plight of thousands of residents all around.