More wards should mean better infra: Residents

Foam is seen in Bellandur lake (DH File Photo)

A lake that is sometimes on fire and sometimes covered in foam multiple stories high. Arterial roads that are almost undrivable due to the sheer number of potholes. Random street corners and water bodies inundated with garbage and infested by rats and other vermin...

Taken outside the context of Bengaluru, these things sound eerily similar to the description of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. But somehow, all these have become part and parcel of life in what used to be known as the garden city.

While the problems that affect Bengaluru are the telltale signs of a city struggling to keep up with explosive population growth, they are also the symptoms of a much larger and worrying problem.

To help address some of these problems better, the state government is planning on the delimitation of wards in the city ensuring that all wards have approximately the same population. To understand the civic ramifications of such a move, DH spoke to residents of the assembly constituency segments where the number of wards is poised to increase after the delimitation.

More wards in the outer areas would mean more money being allotted as BBMP grants. This is why residents view the entire delimitation exercise from an infrastructure perspective.

Articulating this is Vinay Wilson, a pilot living in Thanisandra: “The interior roads here are mostly mud, uneven and filled with potholes, which becomes a huge hazard especially during the monsoon when the roads get flooded.” He explains how he has to spend a disproportionate amount of money on car maintenance because of this reason.

While this poses a problem for motorists, pedestrians are not much better off either, as Vinay explains. “Walking is not a good idea either because if a vehicle trying to avoid a pothole doesn’t kill you, all the dust you are inhaling will eventually do the same.”

Better administered with active local governance could potentially make a difference. This is the hope harboured by the likes of Radhika Nair, a school teacher living in Bellandur. “There needs to be properly maintained footpaths for people to walk around in the city. It is not viable to use your own vehicle or avail public transport for really short distances,” she notes.

Footpaths that do exist are sometimes too dangerous to use. Nair says the pathways are replete with dangerous, open manholes or covered with debris.

It is now apparent that all the problems are further compounded by the rains. “How is it possible that we have to pay for water tankers to deliver water to our society sometimes when at other times roads are flooded with rainwater and garbage?” wonders Nikitha Geo, a resident of Bommanahalli who works at an interior design firm.

Neglected for the most part of the last decade, the outer wards added in 2007 have largely remained grossly under-equipped to meet the challenges of a population surge. Can delimitation change this? This is the question residents want to know as they complain about waterlogging and poor garbage management.

Garbage is often dumped inside drains, blocking the flow and eventually polluting the groundwater further.

“People disposing of off their garbage everywhere from street corners to vacant plots. Between that and the water-logging, we may know why the Bellandur lake froths sometimes,” notes Anshul Chokhani, a senior associate with an investment bank in Bellandur.

Anshul recalls how he was forced to look for accommodation in a gated community as even basic amenities such as water supply and garbage disposal would be doubtful otherwise.

While a majority of these issues are not restricted to overpopulated wards, they seem to be increasingly common in the outer wards. Residents hope the delimitation of wards will help alleviate some of these issues. Smaller wards, they hope, will aid better management and representation of their problems in the BBMP Council.

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