Citizens sue to keep good roads

Citizens sue to keep good roads

Outraged by BBMP’s wasteful white-topping project in Jayanagar and Basavanagudi, they have sought High Court intervention.

(From left) S Manjunath, Mallikarjun, A C Chandrashekar, Dr Kiran Kumar, R V Nagaraj, G S Bhaskar and Jayashekar Yale are the residents of Jayanagar and Basavanagudi, who have filed a PIL against the unscientific way in which the white-topping work is being done. They contend that there is no need for white-topping as the road is in perfect condition.

A group of citizens living in Jayanagar and Basavanagudi has moved the High Court against white-topping, an ongoing project to turn perfectly good roads into concrete ones.

The group has sought the intervention of the court to stop work between Madhavan Park and Nagasandra Circle.

The citizens contend the road is in perfect condition, with no potholes or damage, and will only be ruined by white-topping. 

The project is a waste of public money, the petition says.

Deccan Herald had used the Right to Information Act to procure details about the 94.3 km project, and described how it was being executed in a hazardous and unscientific manner.

A C Chandrashekar, a businessman and resident of Jayanagar since 1966, took the lead in filing the PIL. “The work started three weeks ago. They brought pipes and started marking and digging. I immediately called the BWSSB executive engineer and said the alignment was not proper and could damage the existing pipelines,” he told Metrolife.

The group took this reporter around the area, showing how the workers had dug up parts of a road and footpath to prepare to lay concrete. A Hyderabad company has won the contract. 

“The water and sanitary lines have not been shifted. The workers have no knowledge about the utilities beneath the road,” Chandrashekar says.

Dr Kiran Kumar, Chairman CSR, Federation of Karnataka Chamber, Commerce and Industries, who lives in II Block, Jayanagar, says the pipes can’t be meddled with as they carry Cauvery water to many parts of the city. 

“The pipe supplies water to the eastern parts of Bengaluru and also places like Ejipura, Nimhans, Jayanagar, Siddapura and Double Road. All these pipes are more than 30 years old. How are they going to shift them?” he says. 

Any damage to the pipes will lead to water supply being disrupted and lakhs of people being put to inconvenience, he fears. Kiran also rues the lack of coordination between BWSSB and BBMP.

A resident of Jayanagar since 1962, R V Nagaraj, retired engineer from Killick Nixon and Company, says asphalting has already raised the level of the road. “Every two or three years, they come and lay tar on the existing road. The road is already higher by a good two feet. Now with white-topping, it will become higher and my house will be flooded when it rains,” he says. 

Any new road should be laid only after the tar on the road has been removed. “But they don’t do that,” he says.

The area is known for its lovely tree-lined avenues and parks and playgrounds, but officials lack the sense to retain what is good, the group says.

Among the problems crying for attention are footpath and market encroachments, garbage dumps, erratic water supply and power interruptions. 

G S Bhaskar, a businessman, who has been living in the area since 1967, says, “I had a 10 ft compound that now looks just two and a half ft high. When the digging was on, BWSSB workers damaged the water pipes leading to my house. I had to go after them for days to get it fixed,” he says.

Bengaluru is basically hilly terrain, and mindless concrete work will mean flooding of homes, he observes. “The government should instead use the money to restore rajakaluves and lakes,” he says.

Jayashekar Yale, a businessman and resident of Jayanagar, says the humps on the road are unscientific too.

“On many nights, I have rushed out hearing people falling from their vehicles and crying out. We have taken them to Ramakrishna Hospital in the middle of the night,” adds Jayashekar. 

Echoing his views is S Manjunath, a steel merchant. “White-topping will damage the old sanitary and water systems that are in perfect shape. It will also affect the businesses on this stretch.”

Kiran say existing roads have no provision for rainwater to flow out from the road divider. “There should be a groove every ten metres for water to seep out. The authorities should attend to these flaws first,” he says.

“The height of the road will increase and citizens will suffer as water and dirt will enter their homes. It is unscientifically being done because water and sanitary lines should be placed at a distance. Here, the workers have no clue,” says Chandrashekar.  

14 trees will go

One of the main reasons for citizens to file the PIL is that white-topping will result in the felling of 14 trees fully grown trees. 

Material required for white-topping is dumped on the
pavements, forcing pedestrians to walk on the road.

Status of case

The court has issued a notice to the BBMP Standing Council for their response to the PIL, filed by the residents.

Why no public consultation?
S Shetkar is the lawyer representing the citizens in the case. “The PIL raises objection to the unscientific execution of white-topping. It questions the basis on which these roads are selected,” he told Metrolife. 

Only after digging up the road did the authorities realise that there was a major pipeline underneath, he says. “It supplies water to many areas and cannot be moved,” he says. Why was there no public consultation before the project was started, he wonders.

Shifting sewage lines is a challenge

Chairman of BWSSB Tushar Girinath told Metrolife that shifting underground sewage lines are a big challenge. “The sewage lines go at a depth and are big in diameter. They go by gravity flow so to maintain that flow we may have to cut deeper at certain points and that is a time-consuming process,” says Tushar. He adds that replacing and shifting of underground pipelines, during white-topping work, is always done in coordination with the BBMP.