Thursday, October 15, 2009

CHURCH STREET RAISES A STINK

CHURCH STREET RAISES A STINK
Clogged drains, potholed roads and broken pavements give sleepless nights to traders as well as users, but the BBMP has yet to come out of its slumber
MANASI PARESH KUMAR


Church Street, a part of the elite trio that consists of MG Road and Brigade Road, stinks. Reasons are not far to seek: Clogged and overflowing drains, potholes and broken pavements.
The sewage pipes that run through this street were laid in the sixties and are just seven inches wide. With more than 50 food and liquor joints, 12 commercial complexes and hundreds of shops on the street, flooding and clogging is a common occurrence on this one-kilometre stretch.The severe clogging and the BBMP’s ‘lethargy’ has led some organisations to devise their own methods to deal with the problem.
DRAIN MAN
Bheema’s, an Andhra-style hotel, has employed a man to exclusively to unclog the drains. Shankar, 30, the man for the job, makes sure the drain that runs in front of the hotel flows freely and does not clog the hotel’s bathrooms.
“The drain gets clogged almost thrice a week. Our complaints to the BBMP to desilt the drain were handled only at its own pace. It was more effective to have a permanent man on the job,” says hotel’s assistant manager Ramachandra.
Bheema’s has had a man to deal with its sewage problem for four years now. “We pay him Rs 1,800. He needs to come in every day and make sure there are no possible clogs in the drain,” says Ramachandra.
NO TAKERS FOR TENDERS
Meanwhile, Venkat Raju, chief engineer (maintenance), BWSSB, said there are plans to replace the pipe with a 10-inch pipe, but there are no takers for the tenders.
But that is not the only civic problem on the street that contributes over Rs 100 crore to the kitty of various departments, including BBMP, BWSSB, excise department, KSBCL and Bescom. (Ruby Tuesday, a popular eatery on the street, spends more than Rs 25,000 on power bills alone).
PARKING WOES
Missing streetlights, overflowing garbage cans, parking problems... the list seems endless. But for the neon lights from the jazzy signboards, walkers on this road would suffer from broken legs and twisted ankles.
The potholes and broken pavements have been a way of life for the shop-owners as is the stench from the overflowing drains. “It has been close to nine years since they last asphalted the road. All they do is patchwork on the potholes. By the time they fill one pothole, another is ready,” says Irfan Noor of Irfan’s Tailoring, a tenant for close to 30 years on the road.
PATCHWORK
Even after reports of bad roads, the BBMP is still doing patch work. Though the Rest House Road and Crescent Road that flag the street have been given a fresh coat of tar, Church Street snakes between them like a pale river.
Jaichandra, chief engineer (east), says the proposal for asphalting the road was approved in April 2009 but was ‘dropped’ because the project was not coded by the executive engineer. The project, which would cost approximately Rs 15 lakh, will not start for another month at least. “For now, we will fix the potholes and repair the footpaths. But the work on asphalting the road will not start for another month and that also will be subject to the rain forecast,” he says.

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