Now that the rain is gone and the sun is out, Bengaluru’s civic body -- the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) can no longer blame the weather for bad roads. The BBMP, which started filling up potholes on Friday, expects to finish the work by November 10. BBMP sources say that although a proper survey of potholes was not conducted, the civic body’s engineers have estimated that there could be around 15,000 potholes in the city.
The rains, which ravaged Bengaluru’s roads, turned these stretches into slush pits, causing immense inconvenience to pedestrians and motorists. Despite numerous complaints and outrage from citizens activists, the BBMP had made no forays into fixing the roads. Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Wednesday announced that work would be taken up on war footing and the BBMP began repair works on Friday.
“The roads are being cut into geometric shapes to pour concrete into it,” says Joint Commissioner of Yelahanka Zone, Veerabhadraswamy. He expects that asphalting will commence on Saturday in his zone.
In many cases, the roads are in such a bad condition that the entire layer of asphalt has disappeared. It is even impossible to walk through it, let alone ride a two wheeler, without danger of incurring an injury.
A resident of Horamavu, Kheerthan Karunakar, said, “It is almost like the government is preparing us for off-roading competitions when we see the condition of the roads in our area. It is high time that the concerned authorities work towards making all local roads navigable.”
David Paul, a member of the Horamavu Resident Welfare Association says that the commuters are helpless and have been facing the issue of bad roads since the last 16 years. “We’re really feeling helpless about the state of the roads in our locality. The roads here have never been good for the past 16 years that we have lived here. In one of the localities, the residents themselves took up road work, but the roads were promptly dug up by the BWSSB and are yet to be repaired. There is so much of dust that rises up from these damaged roads. People, including the old and children find it hard to use these roads," he said.
Rakesh Malhotra, a member of a citizen activist group called Hennur Taskers, says that the roads in the locality too are in an extremely bad condition. He says that the stretch between from Shell petrol pump near Lingarajapuram to Kannur is terrible.
“The pothole filling assignment is completely useless. Crores of people’s public money has been used to fill up roads with a formula that cannot sustain another monsoon, and we are fed up with fighting with the authorities year after year. Even after fixing a road, they come back and dig it up once again,” he said.
The BBMP was to carry out road repair works in September this year. However, BBMP Chief Engineer for Road Widening, Somashekar told TNM that the civic body conducted a survey of bad roads only in October and cited heavy rains as an impediment.
“It is impossible to fill potholes during the rains. Even if we do, the asphalt will not stay. That is why we waited for the rain to stop. There was a small delay in conducting the survey but it was completed in October and the survey was not done in all the zones. We have started the repairs now,” he said.
BBMP Commissioner BH Anil Kumar told TNM that there was no need for a survey as the work is being carried out ward-wise. “As and when they find potholes in each ward, contractors have been told to fill it up,” BH Anil Kumar added.
The city’s zonal commissioners said that they expect to meet the November 10 deadline, set by the BBMP to fill all the potholes in the city. The BBMP had also issued a warning to the contractors, who have been tasked with filling potholes, stating that they would be blacklisted if they failed to meet the deadline. The BBMP has also warned of suspending engineers-in-charge if the work is not completed by November 10.
However, civic activists in the city are furious with the lack of proper redressal to the chronic problem of potholes. “Can you count the number of leaves in the tree?” asks Mr MN Sreehari, a traffic expert. Sreehari says that the BBMP figures are skewed as it does not count the interior roads that have been damaged.
“The BBMP will give a bogus figures for the number of potholes. That too is only for the major roads. What about the interior roads? In many cases there is no existence of a road at all. There is no final solution. The problem will come again as the rains come. As the High Court rightly said, the BBMP must be dissolved as they are so incompetent,” he added.