Sunday, September 13, 2009

Namma Metro’s open invitation to disaster

Namma Metro’s open invitation to disaster

Anil Kumar Sastry
The perilous state of the Mahakavi Kuvempu Road has residents fuming
— Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Dangerous: The trenches on the Mahakavi Kuvempu Road between Harishchandra Ghat and Devaiah Park in Bangalore.
BANGALORE: Claims of the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (BMRCL) that the Namma Metro is causing least inconvenience to the public lie literally exposed on Mahakavi Kuvempu (MKK) Road. Perilous trenches have been dug, and Bangaloreans should prepare themselves for the worst when BMRCL undertakes underground station works.

Both sides of the arterial MKK Road between Harishchandra Ghat and Devaiah Park have been excavated by contractors engaged in demolishing buildings and shifting utility lines. Huge trenches left unattended to are an open invitation to grievous injury or worse in the event of rain or total power blackout in the area.

Residents and road-users are incensed over the perilous condition of the road. One of them, Rajaram, accused the BMRCL authorities of utter callousness with regard to public safety. Moreover, homes and people around Mariyappanapalya are bathed in the dust every day because of the heavy traffic near the proposed MKK Road and Malleswaram Metro stations.

According to Kalyanarama, who rides a two-wheeler regularly on the stretch, people negotiate through clouds of dust churned up by the civil works. And when it rains, the road turns into a dangerously slushy stretch.

If the woes here are recent, people around Old Madras Road and Chinmaya Mission Hospital (CMH) Road at the other end of the city have been coping with Metro works for years now.

The Old Madras Road, a highway, now resembles an arena for dirt track races with haphazardly erected barricades. The road is crater-ridden and the stretches have no streetlights. BMRCL has put in place neither service roads nor ensured that the existing road facilitates smooth movement of traffic.

BMTC buses squeeze between barricades, striking terror amongst both drivers and pedestrians.

“The BMRCL site office is on this road, and often segment-laden lorries and cranes emerge suddenly. In fact, there is nobody to guide the traffic, particularly when the unwieldy cranes and excavators speed alongside the traffic. In fact, a crane toppled on this road not too long ago. It was sheer luck no one died,” said Manjunath Rao, who lives in a nearby layout.

Ditto with CMH Road, where people have to struggle to move on the uneven, dug-up road.

It is not that orderliness cannot be achieved. Stretches along Chord Road in Vijayanagar area and West of Chord Road in Mahalakshmipuram locality, which are two-lane roads separated by medians are manageable. This is not because BMRCL has laid good service roads, but because the contractors are using the median to erect the piers, leaving one lane each on both sides for the traffic.

BMRCL stand
BMRCL authorities, on their part, continue to argue that maintaining roads near worksites is not their responsibility. A senior officer asked: “Show me one place where motorable road is in a shambles on M.G. Road between Anil Kumble Circle and Trinity Circle. After completing all the civil works, we will restore the roads, which will be wider than before.”

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