Monday, March 22, 2010

Byte Basket is bitten with problems

Byte Basket is bitten with problems

Employed women of Bommanahalli need secure streets and safer playgrounds

As high-profile areas lack even minimum security and visiting a lake or park becomes an embarrassment, women have a reason to complain. But when even their role in RWAs is minimal, who will address the problems they face daily, asks Soumya Menon

Soumya Menon



It is where gender parity is supposed to be reigning. Part of IT belt, Bommanahalli constituency employs perhaps more women than men in the prestigious IT industry. But they are haunted by an all pervading sense of insecurity.
Padmaja Ravi, 69, a resident of HSR layout, is a case in point.
"I must think twice before taking out my 3-year-old grand-daughter Lekha to play. The place is not safe. Maddening traffic, lack of playgrounds and lack of police protection scare us. We usually go for a walk near the Agara Lake where there is no security if something untoward happens. Women cannot walk there alone. There should be a noticeable presence of policemen in such a public place but I see hardly any. There are no well-lit streets either," Padmaja says.
That the lake is in a pathetic situation is another story, she says. "People throw garbage into the lake and many are seen openly defecating along the bank. How can kids and women walk around," she asks.
Sometime back, there was a talk of privatisation of the lake. She now believes it will be nice if that happens. Part of the lake has gone dry which she fears will soon be swallowed by land sharks.
Non-functional streetlights and mounting garbage are common complaints of most residents, especially women living in Arakere, Puttenahalli, HSR Layout and Bilekahalli. Vasudha Ramani, a teacher and resident of Arekere, says that one of the issues is the street lights.
"Lamp posts are aplenty but very few of them work," says Ramani. She agrees there are some policemen patrolling at night. But they do not cover all the areas. No wonder, there have been cases of chain snatching and burglary. While some localities have private security arranged by their residents' welfare associations, many areas do not have it.
Bad roads, and ill-maintained drains are other problems dogging areas like Arakere, Puttenahalli and Bilekahalli. "The asphalting is not done properly. Many roads are still mud roads and connectivity remains a problem. But with the elections ahead, over the past two months, we noticed some work being done. The priority to public amenities should be given always and not just when there are elections,'' says Vandana K, who runs a play school for children in Bilekahalli.
Bus service is another issue which the BMTC refuses to recognise.
"There are several software engineers who ride buses to office. There are buses which go to the heart of the city, Shivajinagar, MG Road, Majestic, City Market, Jayanagar, Electronics City and even BIA. But there are no convenient schedules to short distances," adds Vandana.
Illegal parking is another issue, especially for women most of whom use two-wheelers for convenience.
"Absence of standard entertainment facilities is too obvious to be underscored. Only the authorities are blind to it. This encourages people to have house parties,'' says Sandhya Venkat, a software engineer living in Puttenahalli.
People also complain that the police or the residents' welfare association do not check on parks in the areas where couples indulge in indecent public display of love.
"It is not a problem if they were to sit and enjoy each other's company. But they do acts that should not be done in a public place where women and children frequent," says Sandhya.
"The issue of collecting garbage has been solved to some extent in most areas as the BBMP undertakes door-to-door collection of garbage. But many areas are still devoid of the facility. There the collectors, under the pretence of segregating the garbage, dump it in some place and create a mess," says a resident who preferred anonymity.
Women have as yet very little role in RWA activities. "We should have more women who are given proper posts in RWAs so that their problems can be put forth, '' says Prasanna Rajkumar, a doctor who runs an ayurvedic and homeopathy clinic in Arekere.
"Women, who return home from work or studies, face problems of security on the one hand and the greed of autorickshaw drivers on the other. Failure of the police to contain rowdy elements adds to it," says Akanksha Sharma, who works for an NGO that takes care of street children in Arekere.

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