Friday, April 30, 2010

A stoic stands on bridge of woes

A stoic stands on bridge of woes

Civic leader vows to solve issues related to water, sewage and garbage

Kavitha Nambiar and Sandhya KS



Clad in white shirt and cream trousers, K Chandrashekar comes out smiling to undertake a yatra with DNA in Jeevanbhima Nagar ward. For a civic leader just voted in, he maintains a stoic's poise to a stream of complaints.
"I want to see the lesser privileged in my ward get basic facilities including good education during my term," he declares his vision as he gets into the car.
Along, people who see him raise their hands in salute and he responds. The first stop is at an unnamed park recently built on HAL IIIrd Stage 16th Main. In the park, residents' representatives receive him. As proposed by the corporator, they have set the stage for an interaction with him.
The meeting begins. Those present say in one voice they will stand by him in solving the ward's 'bruhat' problems: water, sewage, and garbage. Other issues like parks and playgrounds will come next. "We assure you all support, sir," says KP Ramakrishna, an engineer.
Talks invariably veer round to water scarcity. It is a pan-Bangalore problem, everybody agrees. But that will hardly console the parched throats.
"We must do rainwater harvesting this monsoon," says a participant. "Cauvery water will have to be brought to all areas at the earliest," another voice says.
"I've arranged more water tankers for the time being and deeper bore wells will come up," Chandrashekar tells them.
Garbage, he says, needs immediate attention. For a start, he has asked for more manpower and frequency in garbage collection. Defective street lights will be replaced and stray dogs will be sterilised.
Sandhanam, a home maker, is worried about the utter lack of playfields for children. "I don't know what to do. Where will the kids play?" she asks the corporator.
She says she'd love to have a good park and playfield in her ward first. "Okay, we now have a park, but will you make an effort to get us a commodious ground so that children won't have to run up to the road to play," she asks him. "Sure," Chandrashekar assures her. "But," he is quick to point out, "all available spaces have been occupied by buildings. Finding space is going to be a hellish problem."
Residents want to know who gave away all the land to builders. That query remains unanswered.
From the park, the corporator goes to Ambedkar slum in Kodihalli. He says most parts of his wards such as HAL I, II, III, and Jeevanbhima Nagar have no insurmountable problem. Once water scarcity and garbage issues are solved, what one should do in these parts is life-enhancing works such as more shopping facility, entertainment facility, playfields, and parks.
The slums are a different story. He does not hide the fact that these are the very people who religiously go out and vote and are promptly forgotten. "I, for one, wouldn't do that," he pledges.
The slum-dwellers unload a ton of complaints which are too familiar to all and sundry. He tells them about his commitment to make thing better for them. He then goes to Domlur flyover where he says his next biggest challenge awaits. Under the bridge flows a vast sheet of squalid water that is a mix of storm water and sewage which during the monsoon takes a horrible shape and enters nearby homes. "It's too fearsome to recall," is how he dubs it. "Part of 18th Main HAL IInd Stage is always severely hit," the civic leader says.
Absence of proper storm water drains is the major reason for flooding during monsoon. "About 500 houses in Kodihalli are directly affected due to the bad drainage, which leads the dirty water into the houses and raises health issues," says Narasimhan, a resident of IInd Stage. An 11-ft protective wall built earlier had proved effective. The corporator plans to extent it so that maximum number of homes could be protected.

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