B'luru not ready for monsoon

While millions of Indians are looking forward to  monsoon’s arrival to bring down temperatures, replenish rivers and reservoirs, and water parched agricultural lands, there is a lurking feeling of dread too that as in previous years, our civic infrastructure has not been strengthened to stand up to the monsoon’s Fury this year as well.

If Bengaluru’s struggle with pre-monsoon showers in recent weeks is any indication of what lies ahead, then it does seem that a grim scenario awaits. We can expect flooding, water-logging, trees falling on hapless pedestrians, endless traffic jams, cases of electrocution and drowning, etc. Just a few days ago, Junaid, a 10-year-old boy was swept away in a storm water drain, underscoring not only Bengaluru’s abject unpreparedness for the monsoons but also the utter callousness and sheer lethargy of officials of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and other bodies responsible for the city’s infrastructure. 

In recent weeks, civic authorities have been announcing amid much fanfare their plans to strengthen Bengaluru’s capacity to survive the stormy days ahead. For instance, removal of silt, garbage and construction debris at ‘critical spots’ in the City’s 850-km-long storm water drain network to allow smooth flow of water on roads was announced. But that tenders for the de-clogging process were floated a little over a fortnight ago indicates the lack of seriousness on the part of the BBMP and the BWSSB.  Surely, the process could have been initiated earlier. Once again, massive funds set aside to clear Bengaluru’s clogged storm water drains will amount to nothing but more money down the drain. The condition of roads – the old habit of digging up roads in the run-up to the rainy season persisted this year too – is pathetic indicating that the coming monsoon will shower hardships on commuters and pedestrians alike. The BBMP’s eleventh-hour effort to prepare Bengaluru for the monsoon is one big sham. Our roads remain death traps.  

BBMP Administrator Vijaya Bhaskar says that nodal officers in every zone will be alerted on complaints received at call centres. Having failed to prepare the city adequately for the monsoons, the least that BBMP, BESCOM, BWSSB and others can do for Bengalureans is to respond swiftly to cries for help from besieged residents to rescue those whose homes are flooded, to restore broken electrical and telephone connections, etc. In the past, Bengalureans have suffered when their calls to call centres went unattended. Will Vijaya Bhaskar ensure that this monsoon will see civic officials conduct themselves in a more responsible manner?

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