Battling the battered roads

Battling the battered roads

Just ahead of the State Assembly elections, an urgency had gripped the City’s elected representatives. Roads that lay battered for years were suddenly given a coat of tar, even if that meant only the top layer, a few centimeters thick. Post-elections, these pathways are back to their original state. The layers have peeled off, unable to withstand the rains. Here are some telling scenes and voices from commuters and residents of areas where the roads are only symbolic!

 
These long-suffering people are not convinced that the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)'s this year’s budgetary allocation of Rs 300 crore for asphalting roads and Rs 50 crore for developing arterial and sub-arterial roads will give them respite any time soon. For, they know, the roads repeatedly cut for works undertaken by Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited ( BESCOM), Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and other agencies would not be repaired in a hurry. 

Take for instance, the residents of HBR Layout, 5th Block. They have been demanding better roads for the past many years in vain. One of them, Vanitha A, explains, “The main road leading to Nagawara junction is completely riddled with huge craters. It has not been asphalted for more than 10 years now. Despite complaining to the local corporator many times, there is no solution beyond false assurances from the Palike.”

BWSSB’s unfinished Under Ground Drainage (UGD) work has kept the roads virtually unmotorable in many areas, particularly on the city’s outskirts that fall under the new BBMP areas. The 2nd cross road near Peenya Police Station is a case in point. This road is totally in a mess due to the haphazard work of BWSSB. According to the residents here, the Water Supply Board had taken up the work of laying sanitary pipelines and repairing the drainage lines, a month back. The severely dug up road is not fit even for walking. Acutely suffering are children and senior citizens. 

But even in the Central Business District, there is no ray of hope. The scenes are similar even on Avenue Road and Koramangala's Teachers Colony. Considered as a shopping hub, a hangout place and of rising real estate value, Koramangala too sports myriad potholed roads. And this goes on for a nearly a kilometre near Adugodi signal main road in Koramangala.

Ask the motorists and the shopkeepers here and they just shrug at you - with a “it’s never going to change” shake of the head. “This road has been the same for years. The road is used by hundreds of commuters every day. But somehow the officials never seem to notice the condition of these roads,” complains Nagesh, a shopkeeper.

The area has many corporate offices and also a connecting road to link to other localities such as MG Road, Indiranagar and Ulsoor. This key factor should have made the authorities more vigilant to keep the road hassle-free. “Thanks to the poor condition of the roads, there is always a mini traffic jam here. If you have a bike you can at least zig-zag through the crowd of vehicles but if you are in a four- wheeler you have no option but to sit and wait,” says Seema, a regular commuter.

The road condition has only worsened during the monsoon. “Travelling on this road during the rains is like approaching a dreadful task. All the potholes get filled with water and there are mini puddles in the middle of the road. Many passersby curse us when the water splashes on them. But what can we do? We don’t have an alternative,” says Raj, another frequent user of the road. The garbage dumped on the footpaths invade pedestran space, further complicating the problems.

The pothole filling operations launched by the BBMP also do not instil confidence among the public. Notes Jagadish, a commuter, “They just cover the road with soil and fill mud in the potholes. That is their idea of repairing.”

Besides slowing down traffic and causing undue delays for office-goers, the poor roads also trigger health problems. “I have to ferry my mother-in-law regularly on this road. And every time there is a jerk - which is almost every few minutes - she usd to wince in pain. Roads like these are the reason more and more Bangaloreans are facing back problems. But who cares?” wonders Jagadish.

Frustration is a mild word for the thousands of car owners and motorcyclists who take the Suranjan Das road linking Old Madras Road to Old Airport road. The once perfectly motorable road was dug up as part of a widening project. But that was two years ago. Today, the excruciatingly slow road work spells chaos during the morning and evening peak hours. Cars, bikes, buses and SUVs are stuck for hours. Poor traffic management, ancient signages and gaping potholes slow the traffic even further. Besides honking in tandem, the commuters appear to have exhausted their vocal options!

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