Citizens are increasingly taking to social media and registering complaints with the BBMP on the sorry state of pavements, which have become a safety hazard, especially for senior citizens. Across the city, most of the stretches have either been encroached upon by vendors or are uneven and broken. Electricity poles, unstable drain slabs, trees, parked vehicles, and transformers in the middle of the footpaths are a common sight.
Residents in Indiranagar, Banashankari, Bellandur, Sarjapur, Kasavanahalli, and Yelahanka to name a few say that repeated complaints to the BBMP have gone unattended.
Nithin M., a citizen activist from Sarjapur, said they have no option but to walk on busy roads. “Walkability on the pavements is pathetic. Most of them are broken. Apathy from the officials and lack of coordination between agencies are the big problem,” he said.
Areas around Sarjapur Road are worse. A Twitter user recently put up a photo of the pavement on Kundalahalli Gate signal road. While an area has been demarcated with slabs for a pavement, the walkway itself is non-existent. Instead, it is filled with bricks, slush and puddles of rainwater.
Vijayan Menon, who filed a PIL petition in the High Court on bad infrastructure (footpaths and roads), said that under Section 58 of the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act of 1976, it is the responsibility of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike to construct, repair, and maintain civic infrastructure. “Poor roads and footpaths are an infringement of the rights of the people. In our case, the court has observed that civic infrastructure is necessary for leading a dignified life,” he said.
In a landmark verdict in August this year, the High Court said that people could directly approach the court to seek compensation from the civic body for any loss caused by bad roads and footpaths. The High Court also directed the BBMP to create a system to receive complaints on potholes and bad footpaths and roads.
Failure, say residents
Though the BBMP has introduced several apps, including Sahaya, it has not been able to streamline its redressal system. “Interface of apps such as FixMyStreet and Sahaya is poor and complaints are rarely attended to. There is no feedback or follow up mechanism,” said Mr. Nithin. He also said that the grievance redressal system of the BBMP had failed to live up to its promises.
According to Mr. Menon, the BBMP has still not come up with an efficient system of providing compensation to victims injured due to bad roads. “People are still made to run from pillar to post to get compensation despite High Court orders,” he said.
BBMP Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar, while acknowledging the problem, said the civic body has taken various steps to fix these problems. “We have been addressing these problems and attending to them through Sahaya and other apps. Also, OFC cables on footpaths and roads across the city are being removed. Unnecessary repairs are not being taken up on footpaths,” he said.
A senior BBMP official said that at many places, the civic body was being blamed for damages caused by other agencies. “We have taken up the issues at coordination committee meetings. Many problems are being solved one after the other,” he said, adding that in areas where TenderSure work is complete, the pavements are free of obstructions.