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Coordination, collective effort laudable

BBMP Forest division workers removing tree branches, which is fell down on road due to heavy wind and rain at Vidhana Soudha road near Basveshwara Circle (Chalukya Circle) in Bengaluru on Wednesday. (DH Photo by S K Dinesh)

Busy with white-topping and TenderSURE roads, the cash-strapped Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has almost given up on repairing roads and tending to trees across Bengaluru.

Consequently, with just two spells of pre-monsoon thundershowers, the dreaded potholes are back on the city roads, lying in wait to endanger motorists and pedestrians. Besides, old trees with their branches left untended, have claimed the lives of many pedestrians and motorists so far.

While potholes appear on roads due to various reasons, the recent downpours have only added to the misery. According to BBMP officials, potholes form due to heavily loaded vehicles, water stagnation and leakages above and beneath the surface of the roads.

In a week’s time at least 5,000 potholes have been identified across Bengaluru. Although the BBMP’s forest cell claims it is identifying ‘potentially dangerous’ tree branches and trimming them, a sense of fear still lingers among citizens as the monsoon approaches.

As the BBMP struggles to tide over the aftermath of the recent thundershowers, other civic agencies like the Bengaluru Traffic Police (BTP), Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) and Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) have come forward to assist the civic body in identifying potholes, and the trees that are likely to fall during the rains. They are pruning the trees and repairing the potholes on their own.

This not only highlights the much-needed coordination between all the civic agencies but also reflects how these agencies have gone beyond their briefs to come to the rescue of citizens.

The Bengaluru Traffic Police feel a sense of responsibility as the protectors of Bengaluru’s citizens, and they say that’s exactly why they are filling up the potholes.

“We are the ones who stand the whole day braving nature regulating traffic. We know exactly how the potholes and huge craters harm commuters if not cleared. That’s why we are interfering,” said P Harishekaran, additional commissioner of police, traffic.

“We are doing our bit to save citizens from fatal accidents by filling up the potholes. Who is doing it doesn’t matter, but what is being done matters,” he clarified.

Along with the traffic police, the BESCOM too is lending a helping hand to the citizens as well as BBMP in ensuring safety measures before the monsoon arrives. BESCOM is all set to keep pedestrians and commuters safe by trimming the tree branches.

“We are tackling the issue quite seriously before the monsoon arrives. We are trimming the branches that are in contact with electricity lines. As many as 10,700 branches have been identified and are being trimmed,” said Shikha C, managing director, BESCOM.

Coordination meet with deputy CM

Mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun said deputy chief minister G Parameshwara has instructed the BBMP and BTP to address the pothole issue in the city during one of the coordination meetings held two weeks ago, as it is the need of hour with the rains approaching.

“BTP is not obliged to fix potholes at all. It has been doing it voluntarily,” she said. 

Mallikarjun further added that DCP P Harishekaran had also attended the meeting where he said citizens in some areas were pleading to fix the potholes, after which the BTP decided to do so.

But having raised the issue about the BTP’s unscientific work in fixing the potholes, she said: “What the BTP has been doing may not be scientifically accurate. They are only identifying with the need of hour. I have instructed the concerned engineers to undertake the repairs scientifically.”

Dug up roads and potholes are different

A BBMP official who wished to remain anonymous said the civic body is continuously fixing damages due to road cuttings, craters and potholes. “Agencies like BESCOM and BWSSB would have to cut open the roads to lay OFC cables and drainage lines. We are constantly fixing this in all the eight zones,” he said.

Confusion over road restoration

Many citizens complained that large craters on the roads created by Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and BESCOM for utility works are not filled and mended thanks to a prevailing confusion over responsibility among themselves.

“When we ask the BWSSB officials to restore dug or damaged roads they simply wash their hands off claiming it is the BBMP’s job,” complained a resident of Mahadevapura. 

“There is a lack of clarity among BBMP’s ward engineering cell and road infrastructure department on who would give approval, monitor and enforce the restoration of arterial/major roads. The road infrastructure department needs to take ownership of arterial roads and ensure weekly/monthly schedule for restoration, asphalting and removal of the debris,” added the resident.

BBMP website blunders

BBMP officials admitted that the data on potholes in the BBMP website is inaccurate. “Often, the number of potholes will not be updated during summers, as there will be less number of potholes recorded. Our engineers may not upload the data if they are less in number due to negligence. Hence, the potholes data on the BBMP portal is not 100% correct,” said a BBMP official.

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