Why does a robust cloudburst bring the city to its knees? Blame ineptitude and lack of civic sense
If ever there is a season that Nagina and her family dread, it would have to be the monsoon. For, without fail, almost every rainy season, their temporary shed in the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quarters in Ejipura gets inundated.
Despite the usual noises by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which invariably claims that it is all geared up for the rainy season, the city is more or less brought to its knees during the monsoon. Every time it rains, the low-lying areas are flooded.
Civic experts attribute this flooding to rampant encroachments and accumulation of silt in the 850-km primary and secondary storm-water drain network, dumping of garbage, blockage of links between the water bodies, besides a host of other reasons.
The BBMP acknowledges that there are 70 low-lying areas in the city that get deluged in heavy rain. A few months before the pre-monsoon showers, it announces removing of silt from drains to allow smooth flow of rainwater.
However, this has become an annual exercise where huge sums of money literally go down the drain — all in the name of monsoon preparedness.
Last June, the BBMP made yet another valiant attempt to improve the carrying capacity of drains, floating tenders to remove silt from mainly secondary and tertiary drains, for Rs. 42 crore. However, with the delay in the budget, work on secondary drains could not be taken up. Cleaning of tertiary drains — mostly comprising roadside and shoulder drains — was included as part of ward-level works. This is also delayed as the Standing Committee for Ward-Level Works approved the programme of works of the 198 wards only in March this year and the tender process is still on.
Recently, BBMP Commissioner M.K. Shankarlinge Gowda announced in the Council that the civic authority was ready to face the monsoon and that 70 per cent of silt removal had been completed. A senior official told The Hindu this was a “continuous exercise” for the BBMP now whereas earlier, silt removal was executed as piecework. “To bring in transparency, the BBMP has now begun to float tenders. Also, quarry pits have been identified in each zone to dump the silt. The contractors are paid on the basis of the quantum of silt that has been removed,” the official added.
No work fronts
A hurdle before the BBMP in maintaining and improving the health of drains is the lack of any “work front”. An official admitted that a large part of the secondary storm-water drain network did not have any work front, i.e., service roads, corridors or any space by the side of the drain.
Last year, the BBMP had consulted the government with regard to framing a policy to create work fronts for the drains. However, there has been no progress.
With limited options available to prevent flooding, the BBMP is stressing on rejuvenation of lakes, pressuring citizens to adopt rainwater harvesting, besides taking up tree planting. But if precedence is any indication, it's going to be yet another one of those monsoons for Bangaloreans.