Public roads, private woes

Last Updated : 27 September 2014, 20:10 IST
Last Updated : 27 September 2014, 20:10 IST

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Bangalore’s explosive traffic growth forced BBMP to take over roads that run through once-quiet public sector residential colonies. The peace of their neighbourhoods destroyed forever, residents complain their roads are now in disrepair and orphaned.


For two decades, Vasanthi Rao lived in relative calm in a quiet corner of FA quarters, allotted to her husband by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). But five years ago, the main road through the colony changed dramatically, its wide expanse invaded by an endless stream of cars, bikes and trucks. Vasanthi’s peace lay shattered, irredeemably!

Spreading its unbridled, unplanned growth tentacles, the City had just claimed yet another neighbourhood. The quarters and the tree-lined layout that protected it for decades had cracked under the pressure of a noisy, boisterous mix of vehicles determined to take easy shortcuts.

The residents had resigned to their collective fate. For they knew they aren’t alone in this victimhood of modernity. Residential layouts carved out for public sector undertakings such as ITI, BEML, HMT, BEL and BHEL across Bangalore had fallen by the wayside. Public roads had pierced through once lush green avenues, felling trees and exploding the islands of silence.

The rampant mixture of commercial, residential and industrial areas with little thought to sustainable urban planning has taken a toll.

Flanked on either side by HAL properties, the Ambedkar Road near Annasandrapalya lies tattered. Residents and motorists heading to the adjacent revenue pockets always knew HAL owned the road. The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)’s takeover a few years ago went unnoticed. Today, this heavily used stretch remains visibly orphaned!

Maintenance mystery

The road’s maintenance is a mystery to many. Staying in the vicinity for the last 10 years, engineer Sugyan Biswal wonders why HAL doesn’t repair the road anymore. But the local corporator, Siddalingaiah, knew it was the BBMP’s headache, a problem exasperated by non-payment of bills to contractors.

Indeed, attempts were made to at least block the entry of heavy vehicles into residential areas under PSU jurisdictions. Low height barricades were erected at the entry points. But, as Suryadevara Chandrashkar, an ex-secretary of HAL Employees’ Association, points out, powerful interests from the adjacent revenue areas enjoy enough clout and muscle power to get them removed. Spewing smoke, trucks pass through with ease.

The Palike’s poor upkeep of the arterial roads has obviously triggered the motorists’ rush through once-quiet PSU neighbourhoods. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the city had pushed the authorities to spread a veneer of asphalt over the Old Airport Road. But this half-finished job, taken up after years of neglect, has been apparently abandoned. Sources say the work was only a part of the signal-free corridor project, now underway from Marathahalli side.

Harried residents such as Vasanthi and Anand Kumar from FA Quarters admit there is no escape from the heavy traffic. Over the years, they have also learnt to grudgingly endure the peak hour upscaling of the vehicular movements. But they question the reckless drivers, the mischief-mongering youth, dangerously showing off their wheelie stunts, and the trucks.

“Rowdy elements are on a roll here now. They don’t care about our complaints. Watchmen were posted at the entry points for some time. Yet, there has been no end to our troubles,” laments Kumar.

BEML quarters’ woes

Barely four kilometers from this high-traffic Suranjan Das Road lies the BEML quarters. For years, the main link road inside the layout catered mostly to the local residents. But the emergence of the neighbouring Vignan Nagar, Jagadish Nagar, GM Palya, Kaggadasapura as hubs of high growth altered the complexion of this road. Incessant peak hour traffic eventually tore off its asphalt. Repair took years!

The concrete road leading from BEML hospital to New Thippasandra - Suranjan Das Road entrance also bears the brunt of the traffic from the interiors towards Old Madras Road and beyond.

Leaky manholes and underground pipes are seldom attended to, as residents and other road-users wonder whom to turn to for complaints. They are wary of a larger road upgradation project as well. For, they dread to see the fate of Suranjan Das Road repeat anywhere else.

Six years in the making, the widening project of Suranjan Das Road had reduced normal commute on the route to a daily nightmare. Progress of the work, implemented by BBMP in patches, remains pathetically slow.

Contributing to the delay in big measure has been a lack of coordination and purpose between HAL and the Palike, say sources. Local corporators can only promise they will bring up the issue in the next BBMP council.

ITI Colony conflict

Several kilometers away, on Old Madras road, the ITI colony is another symbol of neglect barring the main road tarred a few months ago. Most cross roads here are in disrepair, resembling the fate of the loss-making ITI factory itself.

To an outsider, the area appears as an oasis of green, secluded from the dusty arterial road beside it. But the roar from the hyper busy highway, the traffic that spills out in multi-wheeled chaos, often threatens the colony’s peace.

This colony was the scene of a serious conflict between the local MLA, Byrathi Basavaraj, who chose to give the main road a fresh coat of tar, and the ITI topbrass. For thousands of motorists, the road had turned a crucial link between Ramamurthynagar and Old Madras Road leading to KR Puram, Whitefield, Hoskote and other areas. The road, repaired only in patches for years, cried for attention.

Eventually, the link road got a facelift and a relatively thicker layer of asphalt. This was a rare instance where the efforts of a legislator and the BBMP paid off in stark contrast to the stand reportedly taken by the factory management. Local residents, ITI employees in particular, remain content at the transformation although the cross roads too await a similar treatment.

Published 27 September 2014, 20:10 IST

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