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‘Need to reclaim Bengaluru's storm water drains’

A storm water drain at Vinayaka Nagar. Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.   | Photo Credit: Bhagya Prakash K

The rains in the past few months highlighted the bad condition of the city’s 850 km storm water drain network. Due to a reduction in carrying capacity, there were reports of stagnation of water on the roads as well as flooding in several areas.

The civic body regularly removes silt in order to aid the smooth flow of water. However, this is not enough, say residents, who face the brunt. This year, while the response to tenders floated in May for silt removal was dismal, funds allocated for desilting have been shrouded in controversy amid allegations of misappropriation.

According to city in-charge minister Ramalinga Reddy, Rs. 250 crore had been kept aside for storm water drain related works. He had said that funds would be released under the Nagarottana scheme and the Chief Minister’s Special Fund. However, all these decisions came too late.

“This has been a long standing demand of ours and we have to face this issue every year. How many more lives have to be sacrificed before the government wakes up,” lamented Krishnappa, a resident of Anepalya where several houses were flooded recently after rains.

Another serious issue is the encroachment of SWDs. A recent joint survey by the district administration and civic body revealed that around 118 acres of drains across the city have been encroached upon in the newly added areas. The survey also came about after a High Court directive last year directing the BBMP and BWSSB to desilt all SWDs and remove encroachments. There was a separate directive from the Chief Minister as well.

Flooding leads to several health issues, as the stagnant water becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes. According to the report, there are 971 instances of storm water drains being encroached upon in the newer areas. Yelahanka tops the list with around 100 acres of drain area being encroached. In spite of this, very little effort has been made in clearing the path of SWDs.

Total drain network

842 km

Primary drains/ Raja Kaluve

415 km

Secondary drains

426 km

Expert Speak

V Ravichander, Civic Expert

Encroachment of drains is a major issue that needs immediate redressal. There are a lot of encroachments across the city and the result can be seen during monsoons. I believe that the administration should target these encroachments first while continuing to build and develop the SWD network.

The report identifies encroachment, but has not been fully been implemented and needs some administrative firmness to be carried through. Outlying areas like Yelahanka with maximum encroachments are a cause for concern.

There needs to be more focus on high-growth areas like Yelahanka. They will otherwise become the next Mahadevpura that is now is reeling from a host of civic issues ranging from bad roads to drainage after several villages were added to the BBMP in 2007.

Prioritising encroachment removals based on the size and capacity of the drains is the need of the hour. The primary drains (raja kaluve) must be cleared of encroachments first in order to ease the burden on the network. Secondary and tertiary drains can be taken up in due course. Unless the civic agency acts soon, the situation will worsen.

(As told to Avinash Bhat)

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 2:55:37 PM |

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