For weeks, residents from neighbourhoods across the city have been staging protests to highlight the condition of roads and pavements, and the health hazards they pose to motorists and pedestrians. The death of a differently-abled 75-year-old man while he was reportedly negotiating his scooter on a pothole on Manganapalya Main Road has angered citizens, many of whom blamed civic agencies for apathy.
They demanded that agencies wake up from their “deep slumber” and take action against the officials concerned for the lapses.
Rajkumar Dugar of Citizens for Citizens demanded that the government impose a heavy penalty on officials and others who fail to maintain roads. “In July, a biker was injured after his motorcycle skidded on loose gravel near Kalpana Circle. People carrying out Smart City works were responsible as they did not clear the gravel while carrying out the repair work. Our volunteers rushed him to the hospital and got him treated,” he said.
The injured motorcyclist had demanded compensation so that he could pay his medical bills and repair his bike. “It was only when we took up the issue with officials concerned that he was compensated. Accidents caused by bad roads are a common occurrence, but the general public gets penalised when we violate rules. Why should the same rules not apply to officials; they should be fined heavy,” Mr. Durgar added. Others, especially those living in the Central Business District area, criticised the road work taken up under Smart City. “Lack of coordination between various agencies has only added to the mess,” said one motorist.
On Monday, Minister for Revenue R. Ashok gave the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike time till September 20 to repair bad reaches and fill potholes on 1,332-km of major roads. But that has been met with a healthy dose of scepticism.
“Every rainy season they talk about fixing potholes. We are in September and agencies are still buying time to fix the problems,” said Vinod Kumar, a motorist.
A member of Whitefield Rising said, “Despite raising awareness about missing roads and potholes, there continues to be zero response or no urgency shown to tackle the issues by BBMP or other civic agencies in the city. There is no concerted effort to provide good roads. We want civic agencies to put roads that last and withstand the rains and not do patchwork as they disintegrate after two rains”.
People living in Varthur said their roads were reduced to mud puddles due to work by multiple agencies.
“We have raised the issue in Varthur, Nallurhalli, and other areas, but nothing has happened so far. Officials are still buying time. We have been waiting for good roads ever since 110 villages were added to BBMP 13 years ago. There continues to be apathy and negligence,” said another member of Whitefield Rising.