Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why they curse the underpass

Why they curse the underpass

Noise, dust, bad roads, repeated problems with sewers, phone lines and electricity connections

Sunitha Rao R. Bangalore



Thanks to tardy progress in work undertaken by civic agencies, there are some residents of JP Nagar being bled dry of their money. Not less than 15 residents have got building plans in the area approved by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), but remain unable to begin construction work.
Many of the residents have already availed loans, and are in the process of repaying them. 'What might be preventing construction?' you might ask. The roads in the area are in such a state that trucks carrying loads of construction material just cannot enter.
The construction of the grade separator at Puttenahalli is the cause for the woes of more than 15 families that reside at JP Nagar. The Rs23-crore underpass was meant to be completed by March 2009. BBMP officials now estimate that the work will take at least another year. Once completed, this underpass is expected to connect southern parts of the city with its heart. It was also estimated that traffic congestion would be brought down by nearly 40%.
Residents of the area, however, had never anticipated the problems that construction of the underpass would cause them. Dr DB Meundi, former director of the Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, and president of the JP Nagar Residents' Welfare Association, is one of those facing the burden of useless debt. "And it is not just construction which is hampered. We are not able to take our vehicles out, as the roads outside out homes have been in a state of disrepair," said Dr Meundi.
Though one-way vehicular movement was allowed on the 24th Main of JP Nagar, this brought little respite to stranded residents, as many of the roads were not asphalted. "Everyday, our Suprabhatha begins with calls to civic agencies like the BBMP, the BWSSB, BSNL and BESCOM. Our sewage, electricity or telephone lines are cut frequently. Feeder lines get punctured by construction equipment. It is a constant cycle of repair and destruction," said Dr Meundi.
"This grade separator was not essential. There was not such a lot of traffic on this road. There are many 'to-let' signs in JP Nagar Ring Road now, where road widening work was supposed to begin six months ago. Portions of many commercial and residential buildings were earmarked for demolition. Traders have been facing a tough time, with enormous losses," said Dr Meundi.
H Rajasimha, technical advisor to the BBMP commissioner, said that 80% of the work on the underpass has been completed. Residents are not convinced. "Approach roads are not ready; alignment of electrical and water lines, and the sewage drains on the service roads has not begun. What 80%?" questions Ramakrishna DN, a resident.

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