These deaths are on BBMP, govt

While the Karnataka government and civic officials twiddle their thumbs and engage in a blame game, the common man and woman in Bengaluru are suffering grievously on account of the city’s abysmal road and sewage infrastructure. Sixteen people have lost their lives in rain-related incidents this monsoon season; six of them were washed away in a span of three days last week. As for Bengaluru’s roads, potholes have grown in number, size, depth and killing capacity. Four people died in road accidents over a period of just nine days. In every one of these cases, it was a pothole that caused two-wheeler riders to lose control over their vehicle. This caused the rider or pillion to fall off the vehicles and be crushed under the wheels of other vehicles. Reports of such incidents, which occurred so frequently in the past two weeks, made for painful reading every time as they resulted in loss of lives and suffering to the families of the victims. Adding insult to injury are the unsympathetic, even insensitive, responses of ministers and BBMP officials. Not one of them has taken the responsibility for Bengaluru’s woes. Instead, they blamed the rains.

It is true that this year’s monsoon has brought Karnataka, in general, and Bengaluru, in particular, copious amounts of rain. The amount of rain recorded in September and October has been unprecedented. But attributing the deaths to “nature’s fury” is a cop-out, an attempt at deflecting blame. Bengaluru’s suffering this year is not due to the heavy downpours but due to the city’s shoddy sewage and road infrastructure. And for this, it is the BBMP, the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board, the state government and the Public Works Department that are to blame.

Politicians and officials are blaming the ‘floods’. But Bengaluru is not suffering flooding, it is suffering water-logging, which is man-made and the result of poor water drainage infrastructure. Despite allocation of crores of rupees towards clearing the storm water drains, the job has not been done. As a result, Bengaluru has never been rain-ready. This was the case this year as well. It resulted in waterlogged roads, which caused our substandard roads
to get washed away. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s 15-day deadline to BBMP officials to fill potholes is welcome, but it is unlikely to improve our roads. The fillings are already giving way. This is like putting band-aid to stem a haemorrhage. What we need instead is a comprehensive strategy that brings on board all concerned departments and stakeholders. Bengaluru must be pulled out of this tragic mess.
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