For Mariam Bi, it’s a daily game of hop, step and jump to enter her house. She has to gingerly pick her way through the smelly pool of sewage right outside, steering clear of the floating heaps of garbage.

A resident of Roshan Nagar, D.J. Halli, for the past nine years, Ms. Mariam, who rolls agarbathis for a living, says it’s an overflowing drain of woe when it rains. “While the whole world prays for rain, the residents of Roshan Nagar send out silent prayers hoping the skies don’t open. The sewage just flows into our one-room home.”

After every rain, say residents, their valuables are washed away by the drain water that floods their homes.

And, says Nasreen Begum, even as they spend ages bailing out dirty water from their homes, they have to walk far when they need toilets. “There is no toilet in the area. We have to walk till Modi Gardens to use the public toilets.”

Residents admit they dump garbage into the nala. Azam Pasha, a local leader, complained that there is no garbage collection in the area, so they are left with no option but to dispose of their waste in the large drain that flows through there.

“Over the years, debris was dumped in the area and the land levelled. It is home to the poorest of the poor. There are no basic amenities here. There is no one to protect our interests,” he lamented.

Drain and delay

The construction and strengthening of the storm-water drain has been progressing at a snail’s pace, but residents say the project itself was taken up after much delay. Though proposed in 2010, the work order was issued only in December 2012. Work was stopped in March, ahead of the Assembly elections, because of the poll code of conduct.

Local councillor Sampath Raj said he had raised the issue in the BBMP council several times. “To remodel and strengthen the 250-m drain, the engineers took nearly six months to prepare the estimate. After this was done, several months went by before the work order was issued.”

Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) engineers of the storm-water department were unavailable for comment.

Encroachments

Mr. Raj claimed that once the drain work was completed, the nala could be connected to it, thus solving the problem of stagnation.

He pointed out that most homes here had encroached the nala. “Evicting the residents is next to impossible. Before evicting them, the government must make alternative arrangements,” he said.

A pilot housing project could be taken up in the area, he said. “Comprehensive development is needed for the area. It should be taken up jointly by various departments, including the BBMP, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board and the Karnataka Slum Development Board.”

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