While IT companies and residents could put a number on the losses they suffered due to the torrential rains which battered the city the last few days, a secondary economy built around the famed IT corridors also crumbled this week.
Daily wage workers, cab drivers, food delivery executives, auto drivers, owners of eateries, mechanics and many more are the contributors to this secondary economy. Their losses for the week ranged from hundreds to lakhs. Further, with the threat of IT companies moving to alternative locations looming around, they fear that they will lose their earnings from the areas which give them a large part of their business.
Most migrants in these areas work as construction labourers and also receive daily wages. This meant that for almost a week, they had no earnings as all activities had taken a halt due to these rains. Some were provided meals by NGOs and the BBMP, while others were helped out by the apartment federations in the area. They also suffered many materialistic losses.
“The working class residential areas adjacent to apartments and IT parks got flooded and they suffered severe problems. They lost TVs, mobile phones, ration and documents in the water. Children also lost their notebooks and textbooks” said Lekha Adavi of the Alternative Law Forum (ALF).
Small shops and eateries along the Outer Ring Road (ORR) had to pull their shutters down as their equipment and inventory was damaged in the rain. Bijay, who runs an Ambur Biryani eatery on Outer Ring Road was worried about recovering his losses after his restaurant was completely inundated.
“At least 250 – 300 people from nearby companies come here to eat their dinner and lunch. Now for two days, such is our state. We have been sleeping and eating here as we cannot even pull our shutters and go home. We have incurred losses up to at least ₹40,000 - 50,000.”
As the roads were inundated, the ones who took a major hit were the cab and autorickshaw drivers. The choices before them were to take a risk and take their vehicles on the road and pay for the damage the water will cause, or to logout from their booking apps and lose out on the day’s business. Most of them chose to do the latter as the former would cost them lakhs, while this a little more than a thousand.
“Around 60% of our business comes from the areas of Bellandur, Whitefield, Sarjapur and Electronics City. We had to unfortunately lose out on that major business the last few days. Not logging in was the safer option as once we are out on the road, there is no guarantee about what will happen. When a vehicle passes next to us, the rain water which splashes on to our windshield will block our view and lead to accidents. If the vehicles turn off in the middle of the road, the engine replacement and service costs will go up to two lakhs. By logging out, we lose around ₹1500 in a day. During rains, it is dangerous to drive on any roads in Bengaluru including posh localities like Residency Road and Richmond Road”, said Tanveer Pasha, Ola Uber Drivers and Owners Association.
The autorickshaw drivers also had similar woes. “If our drivers went to the IT belts and got stuck there, they have no means to come back to the city. They do not get customers there. For goodwill, some of our drivers went there and dropped people who work in those tech parks, but it was definitely not an easy ride. If we do not drive at least 100 kilometres in a day, we incur losses. But some of our drivers had to cancel rides for their own safety”, said Sampath, General Secretary, Adarsha Auto Union.
The food delivery executives on the other hand, did not have the luxury of logging out of their apps as they would miss out on their incentives without working for a fixed number of hours. Many executives reached their destinations on foot where vehicles could not go.
“We get a lot of orders from Sarjapur and Bellandur, especially from Ecospace. There are also restauraunts inside Ecospace from where food was ordered. The situation was really grim and when it was beyond control, they had to log out and lose on a day’s business or cancel deliveries and pay penalties”, explained Srinivas G, Vice President, United Food Delivery Partners’ Union.
This time, it may have been the Mahadevapura zone where a lot of losses were incurred, but people from all of these sectors unanimously agree that similar problems have been faced by them all over the city in the last year, owing to unprecedented rains and inundations.