No green signals in Whitefield

Lack of grade separators, rising traffic trigger daily chaos in the IT hub

No green signals in Whitefield

Trapped in a twister of a traffic jam for the sixth consecutive day, software engineer Dharnesh Kumar cursed his fate. En route to his office on ITPL main road, Whitefield, Kumar had taken 45 minutes to cover a six-kilometre stretch from KR Puram.

He had no choice. For, the entire road network in Whitefield was caught in a chaotic concoction of rapidly rising car traffic, an acute shortage of policemen and a complete absence of grade separators.

Barring the Marathahalli bridge and the KR Puram cable-stayed bridge on its periphery, Whitefield has no flyover, underpass or skywalk. None is in the pipeline either. So, what have you? Eight traffic-clogged junctions, where motorists queue up for 25 minutes or more, and intersections aplenty with tractors and trucks vying for space with a monstrous fleet of BMTC Volvos and cars in unending streams. 

Driven by the IT boom, Whitefield had flourished big time, emerging as a global hub of several MNC giants.

Over the years, as the companies mushroomed, some roads, the ITPL main road in particular, did get a facelift. But the planners failed to foresee the spurt in cars and othe traffic. High salaries and changing lifestyles triggered a rush by techies to upgrade their modest two-wheelers to four-wheelers. The roads quickly proved pathetically inadequate. Although BBMP planned a few grade separators under the signal-free corridor project, it could take years.

Concepts such as car-pooling were good on paper, but hardly practised. Monitoring slow-moving traffic on ITPL main road, a traffic inspector struggled with his few men from 7 am to 11 pm.

“A vast majority of private cars have only passenger. Why can’t they share one vehicle if many are from the same company heading home in the same direction,” he wondered. Surendra, a HP employee knew the inspector was right. For, he had seen “husband and wife coming to the same office in two cars!”

Heavy-duty trucks were off the Whitefield roads only till 10 am. Thereafter, the chaos got worse for the traffic policemen. But they wished at least the Volvo buses engaged by private firms had better sense not to park on the congested roads. “After dropping the employees, the drivers stop for tea on the road. We have filed several cases, but they don’t listen. Twenty to 30 cases are pending against many of them,” said a constable.

To attract high-value customers to public transport, BMTC had pushed over 50 Volvo trips to the area at regular intervals.

Many IT employees switched to the AC buses, but complained of frustrating travel delays. Stuck for nearly half an hour at the Kundalahalli junction on Varthur road, a bus passenger, Babitha frantically arrranged a conference call since she had missed a deadline. Her ITPL office was only a few kilometres away, but she knew the bus would take another hour.

Twenty-five traffic policemen had to brave the city’s highest pollution levels (as rated by KSPCB) to tackle an area covering three police station limits -- Whitefield, Kadugodi and Varthur. “It takes over three hours to cover the area from end to end.

Even if they double the current strength, it will still be mighty tough to manage this traffic,” said a sub-inspector at the Graphite India junction, preferring anoymity.

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