Over the past few days, there has been outrage from citizens over the dismal condition of roads owing to digging by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB). With the city receiving heavy rains over the past couple of days, the condition of the roads has worsened.
Following several complaints from citizens, especially from the five outer zones, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar, in a tweet, said the civic body had drawn up an action plan to restore 630 km of 3,000 km of roads where the BWSSB had completed laying drinking water and underground drainage (UGD) pipelines. This work, he said, will be taken up on a war footing after the current spell of rains. He has also assured citizens that all the slush and water logging complaints would be attended to as well.
BBMP officials said most of the road digging by the BWSSB is in the outer zones where the water utility is in the process of laying pipelines for supply of drinking water and underground drainage (UGD). The work is under progress in the 110 villages coming under Bommanahalli, Dasarahalli, Mahadevapura, Rajarajeshwarinagar and Yelahanka zones.
The BWSSB claims to have dug up 2,536 km of roads for laying water pipelines and 528 km for UGD. As per BBMP data, the civic body has restored 548.04 km of 2,196.91 km of ward roads and 88.88 km of 188.47 km of arterial and sub-arterial roads that were dug up by the BWSSB.
BWSSB officials claim to have paid road restoration charges to the BBMP.
Civic officials pointed out that the water utility had paid ₹48 crore as restoration charges for ward roads and ₹34 crore for arterial and sub-arterial roads.
“This is hardly enough to repair the stretches that have been dug up. We had even raised this in the coordination committee meetings chaired by Chief Secretary T.M. Vijay Bhaskar,” an official said and added that the ₹364 crore earmarked for road restoration under the Nava Bengaluru scheme would be used to restore roads.
The ₹8,015 crore Nava Bengaluru scheme was approved by the government recently.
According to sources, the civic body has already fixed an agency in each of the eight zones to take up road restoration work.
“BWSSB officials claim to have completed 80% of the work of laying water pipelines and 20% of UGD,” a source said and added that as per directions of the Chief Secretary, the dug-up portion of the road would be repaired first. “The entire road can be relaid only after BWSSB completes laying UGD pipelines and gives BBMP an all clear.”
Citizens are sceptical of this action plan.
Jagadish Reddy from Varthur Rising questioned why the road restoration was not factored in when the mammoth project of providing BWSSB water and UGD pipelines was conceived. “The BWSSB has been digging up roads for months now. Yet, both agencies did not do anything to restore roads. Eventually, citizens have had to bear the brunt,” he rued.