Monday, February 22, 2010

These schoolchildren cross the road dangerously

These schoolchildren cross the road dangerously

PK Surendran



A young woman traffic constable sits under the shade of a bramble on the airport highway in front of the University of Agriculture Sciences. She lazily watches schools kids running across the road to escape the speeding vehicles and vehicles going in the wrong directions. The hot sun has inactivated her. But she is quick to catch a woman rider without helmet.
Lack of traffic regulation and attendant risks on the eight-lane airport road have been a cause of concern among parents and residents.
"My big worry living near the airport highway is the high risk my children take every day while crossing the road where vehicles zoom at high speed," says Rosy Thomas, a resident of Vidyaranyapura. Residents' welfare associations have jointly petitioned to the Palike, state government and local MLA for setting up skywalks in major junctions.
"Speeding vehicles along the highway leading to the airport are the greatest menace to our kids. There are 16 schools and education institutions in a 10-km stretch from Hebbal flyover to Yelahanka. Thousands of kids must cross the road and yet not even one skywalk or zebra crossing has been built along the way. Children are risking their lives every day while crossing the airport road screaming with traffic," says Shobha Belur, a dance teacher.
"Ever since the BIAL came up, traffic has increased four-fold," says a policeman enjoying his soft drink in a cool bar nearby.
MLA Krishna Byregowda says he will not blame the Palike on this count. "It is the highway authority that should provide safe pedestrian crossings. I have written to NH Authority. New roads on other areas will have this facility," he says.
Shortage of drinking water, poor facility for garbage clearance, land encroachment, and inadequate traffic regulation are equally bothersome.
Barring Vidyaranyapura and Byatarayanapura, most other wards especially Jakkur, Kodigehalli, and Kuvempu Nagar face water shortage.
"Cauvery water proves a mirage," says Ramu Ketkar, a resident of Jakkur. "Residents of Dassarahalli, Bommanahalli, Kengeri, Yelahanka, Byatarayanapura, and surrounding areas are at the mercy of private tankers for their water," Ketkar adds.
"Borewell is the only sure answer now," says Byregowda. He admits to foul play by private tankers. "Some spread rumours of terrible water shortage and create a mass hysteria."
Garbage pile-up is another civic issue bothering most wards. As one drives along the national highway, one can see rotting garbage dumped in front of schools. "What to talk of interiors if you see this on the highway?" asks Bholanath, a shopowner.
Sudden development has given rise to land grabbing. The Byatarayanapura police had a tough time dealing with land grab till recently. "Now there is nothing left to grab," quips a police sub-inspector.
Wherever one goes, residents and shopowners in one voice condemn the Bangalore Metro Transport Corporation for its poor network in the constituency. "Most unscientific and indifferent organisation," is how a social activist in Byatarayanapura describes it.

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