Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bangalore still can't handle heavy rainfall

Bangalore still can't handle heavy rainfall

Bosky Khanna. Bangalore



Is Bangalore prepared to handle the rain fury during monsoons? Not yet, say experts. They point out that the promises made by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) after the last monsoon are yet to be fulfilled.
Civic experts say that after the death of the six-year-old Abhishek Prakash in an open drain in Lingarajapuram, the Palike had promised to ensure total safety to citizens in the next monsoon. But a similar incident repeated on May 16. During the downpour, 48-year-old Ramakrishna got drowned in an open drain in Venkatappa Layout.
The question asked is when will the government and Palike learn the lesson and take responsibility? It has to fulfil five major requirements to tackle the possible rain havoc in the coming monsoon.
Storm water drains have to be desilted and closed. This assurance topped the list of promises made by the corporation. While there is some work in progress, it is nowhere near completion. "Every year, we have been hearing the same thing. Desilting the drain just once is not sufficient. It should be done periodically,'' says Mathew Thomas, general secretary of Citizen's Action Forum. There is a need to put iron grills on drains to let the rain water flow into it and to block entry of garbage, especially plastic waste.
Member of Praja Bangalore, Muralidhar Rao, says that construction material and debris are dumped on the road and during heavy rains, these are washed into the drains resulting in clogging.
Illegal constructions should be curtailed. "Till date, no attempt has been made by the government to identify illegal constructions along storm water drains,'' says Thomas.
Rao blames the government for legalising illegal structures through Akrama Sakrama. He says no mercy should be shown regarding structures constructed on storm water drains.
All storm water drains should be connected to the trunk drain. This is a long-term issue as most roads still lack rain water outlets, says urban planner George K Kuruvilla. Funds for reconstructing drains, ensuring inflow of rain water and connecting them to trunk drains were sanctioned under JNNURM projects. But nothing has happened. This shows the lack of competence and lethargy of officials.
In order to link the drains, the BBMP will have to redo the entire city structure. For the time being, they can identify pockets of problems and clean them, says Rao.
All this is a part of the sanitation project funded by the World Bank but nobody knows the status of the project, adds Thomas.
Trees near the roadside should be pruned. The BBMP has done very little about this, which is why with every downpour, a large number of trees come crashing down. This is also due to the absence of coordination among the civic agencies, says M Harsha, a tree expert. Ideally the BBMP should scientifically prune trees after September in such a way that the tree does not lose balance. They should give proper training to workers who are pruning the trees for power and telephone lines.
Helplines should work 24x7. This promise has been made by every BBMP commissioner and mayor. "This seems to be a stuck gramophone record being continuously played,'' says Thomas.
Unless there is a feedback mechanism and proper coordination, no helpline will work. Many a time, the telephones are dead or are kept off the hook as the officials in the control room do not want to answer calls. These problems need to be addressed before making any more promises, says Rao.

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