If the 6.5-kilometre canal, once a 500-metre-wide wetland, had not been encroached, it would have carried the rainwater from Bellandur to Varthur Lake and deposited it in the Dakshina Pinakini River.
Now, the 20-feet-wide rajakaluve could barely carry the virtual tsunami bursting down from the upstream of KR Market and Koramangala. Sunday’s thunderstorm has plunged 2,000 houses in flood.
The deluge on Bellandur canal was so severe that the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) had to deploy boats to rescue residents caught in chest-deep water.
Massive amounts of water inundated Kariyammana Agrahara, Yamalur, Marathahalli, Munnenkolal, Balagere and Varthur. Since the rajakaluves connecting Bellandur canal were also encroached, water burst through into residences in Spice Garden Layout.
“While the wetlands completely disappeared, Bellandur canal’s original alignment has been damaged by rampant encroachments. The fear is that monsoon in future will be far worse,” a senior BBMP official said.
An incomplete rajakaluve linked to Soul kere, Kaikondrahalli, Kasavanahalli and Haralur lakes as well as the fully encroached rajakaluve between Halanayakanahalli and Junnasandra lakes near Sarjapur Road has also worsened the flooding.
Without drains to flow through, water bursting down from Soul Kere flooded the Outer Ring Road (ORR) near Eco Space. The BBMP’s attempt to fix a temporary pipeline is proving to be inadequate. The long-term solution, officials believe, would be to break down ORR and lay a permanent outlet.
The encroachment of a rajakaluve near Sarjapur Road flooded several layouts, including Rainbow Drive, Sunny Brooks, among others. The entrance to IT major Wipro’s head office, too, was flooded on Monday morning.
The ongoing project to remodel stormwater drains with concrete has only compounded the problem. The concrete work, touted as the panacea for all the flooding woes, has mostly been completed in the core areas, while it was ongoing in the peripheries. As a result, the sea of floodwater surged down from the core areas to flood the low-lying parts.
Out of the 800 stormwater drains, the BBMP has managed to complete remodeling of only about 400 kilometres. It began building cement walls on an additional stretch of 150 kilometres at an estimated cost of Rs 1,500 crore, work for which would begin after the monsoon.
Leo Saldanha, coordinator of the Environment Support Group, said flooding in Bengaluru is the handiwork of an administrative, political and corporate nexus.
“Despite fierce opposition to allow urbanisation on the wetlands between Bellandur and Varthur, the government went ahead with its plan. The wetlands have been destroyed,” he said, warning that the city might witness a greater catastrophe since the BBMP is going ahead with its plan to build concrete walls along the drain.
“This project will destroy property, life and livelihoods. It will kill people by the dozen. The chief minister should drop the project and follow the Justice Patil Committee’s guidelines (on lake restoration),” he said.
Waterlogging in airport
The driveway of the Kempegowda International Airport in northern Bengaluru reported waterlogging in the early hours of Monday following heavy overnight rains.
A spokesperson for Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) stated that the water was cleared through the drainage system within half an hour.