Sunday, February 21, 2010

Elite residents pool in Rs 6 lakh to clear overhead electric cables and build a brand new Walton Road

Elite residents pool in Rs 6 lakh to clear overhead electric cables and build a brand new Walton Road

Atangle of overhead electric cables and pylons are both dangerous and unaesthetic, and with the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) not in a hurry to do anything about it, residents of upscale Walton Road decided to take things into their own hands. There are 40-odd families and eight business establishments on the road and they all pitched in to raise Rs 6 lakh.
“BESCOM budgeted Rs 12 lakh for the project of turning this entire line into underground cables and moving the Ring Main Unit (RMUs). The deficit of the budget was Rs 6 lakh,” said Geeta Maini, a resident of Lyndhurst Apartments, and a key member behind the fund-raising initiative. The welfare association calculated the share of each family and commercial establishment according to the size of the household and the property.
Each resident then pooled in about Rs 15,000 depending on the size of their property and square feet-resident ratio, and the commercial establishment owners contributed amounts starting from Rs 50,000 depending on the size of their business. In just two weeks, the residents had collected the deficit amount of Rs 6 lakh and handed it over to BESCOM. “We have a policy of taking only heavy duty cables underground. The residents wanted the facility and paid for it,” said Ashok Angadi, Chief Engineer, BESCOM. The project has begun.
Walton Road residents are an aggrieved lot. Garbage is not collected on a regular basis, they need a boat to travel around during the rains because the drains get clogged, and the RMU is situated centrally and without an enclosure, which makes it a permanent hazard.
So when the BBMP decided to asphalt this 280-meter road after nearly three decades, the residents decided to fix all the other problems too at one go.
“We wanted to develop our road as a model street. The government is cash strapped, so if we can pitch in and help them, it gives us a sense of ownership,” said Geeta. “It is not about the money but the quality of life that we want. If you want a little extra, you must be willing to pay for it,” said Ranjeet Jacob, a retired ITC official and a resident of the road. Anju Dadlani, owner of a store on the stretch, mirrored his sentiments: “I just want my road back,” she exclaimed.
The residents have also decided to introduce a parking meter system so that they can generate revenue and also maintain the road.


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