Unprepared for monsoon

Rain water flooding Oakalipura Underpass in Bengaluru on May 17, 2019. DH Photo/ Janardhan B K

Even the best planned cities in the world may not be able to withstand nature’s fury, but all it takes for Bengaluru to crumble is just one rain. If the havoc wreaked by the pre-monsoon showers recently is any indication, the actual rainy season is certain to be a veritable hell, due to the complete lack of preparedness. Year-after-year, it is an all too familiar story of flooding, falling trees and power outages, but the civic and utility agencies rarely take precautionary measures and are caught totally unawares when the skies open up. With its undulating topography, Bengaluru should never have faced the problem of flooding, but unplanned growth and illegal constructions have hindered the free flow of water to the hundreds of lakes that once dotted the city. The existing lakes do not have the holding capacity as they have not been de-silted for years, leading to overflowing and consequent flooding. Though the city has 842 km of stormwater drains (SWD), at least half the network is poorly maintained, leading to “flow back” of rainwater. Another cause of flooding is that most drains on the shoulder of roads which connect to SWDs are completely clogged as they are rarely cleaned by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP). The flooding of Bommanahalli zone, particularly BTM layout, after the recent rains, is a case in point.

The contribution of the water and electricity supply agencies, BWSSB and BESCOM, to the mess is also in no meagre measure. Though monsoon is round the corner, BWSSB is still continuing with its digging activities in many areas. The entire stretch of Kasturinagar main road and surrounding areas, where underground pipes are being laid for the past several months, has been rendered unmotorable and is certain to turn into a death trap once monsoon sets in. While BBMP does not remove weak, old and dead trees in advance, BESCOM’s inefficiency in pruning branches that touch electric lines is one of the reasons for power failure at the first sign of rain.

A city should be on maintenance mode throughout the year, but Bengaluru’s famous ‘adjust maadi’ culture has permeated so deeply into our civic bodies that they wake up only after the damage is done. The fact that neither the officers nor the corporators are brought to book for their criminal negligence has only emboldened them to remain in slumber. Over the years, Bengaluru has been damaged beyond redemption and a permanent solution may never be in sight. The citizens should come to terms with this reality, but the authorities can at least minimise their misery by rising to the occasion each year.

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