Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Voices of hope among heap of problems

Voices of hope among heap of problems

From congested roads, to lack of parking space to spread of diseases — the problems of one of the toniest addresses of Bangalore found expression at DNA's first-ever government-public interface organised in the city at Koramangala. The local corporator was all ears, and she promised the residents that all their grievances will be addressed, Shruti Goutham reports

Residents turn up in large numbers at the govt-public interface to air their grievances and offer solutions



The Speak Up campaign of DNA kickstarted on Sunday in Koramangala, one of the fastest growing localities in the city. Residents voiced their numerous woes. Long-time residents, who have watched Koramangala transform from a sombre residential locality to an over-congested place, are certainly not happy.
Brij Mohan, a local resident, spoke of walkways that have been encroached upon, leaving no place for pedestrians to walk. "Recently, many of the roads were paved, but the footpaths got no attention at all. The slabs are unevenly laid, and many are missing. This poses huge risk for pedestrians," he said. He also highlighted the fact that many shops and fast-food joints in the area had encroached upon the footpaths. Complaints to the authorities had gone in vain, he rued.
MC Kumar, a resident of 17th Main, 6th Block, Koramangala, spoke of the bandicoot menace, blaming it on litter, open manholes and debris. "This creates a haven for bandicoots and rats, and also helps mosquitoes to breed, posing serious health hazards," he said.
Dr K Umeshwara spoke at length about health and hygiene. "Chikungunya and dengue are spreading at an alarming rate. This is largely due to water stagnation and garbage. Citizens must play their part in keeping the surroundings clean and the authorities must also take appropriate steps at the earliest," he said.
"The building plan has provisions for parking. However, house owners use that space for an extra room. There is a need to penalise such deviations. Encroachments on footpaths must be removed. Officials are harping on road-widening. But if there is adequate parking facility, there will be more room for traffic movement. Authorities mustn't blindly implement new plans such as road-widening without considering other options," he said.
Geeta G, who resides on the 6th Main Road, stressed the need to keep storm water drains clean. Water-logging was a common problem in Koramangala; low-lying areas were adversely affected every time there was a downpour, she said.
FK Manawalan said even residents on the 5th Cross Road faced the same problem. "Just 15 minutes of rain and the roads become 'untraversable'," he said.
Diah Kamath from 4th Block also had similar concerns. Kamath said she had requested the authorities many times to solve the problem. "But, I haven't heard a positive response from them," she said.
Koramangala ward corporator Kokila BN, who was present at the event, told Kamath that she was hoping to get extra budget sanctioned this year to ensure that the height of all low-lying areas in the locality was increased.
Geeta also spoke of the stray dog menace and rats that scamper around.
There was a need to focus on better maintenance of electric poles, as the wires hung low and posed a risk to human lives, she said.
Anil Chinnaiah complained about unregulated development in the area. "Commercialisation, if inevitable, must be planned. Sadly, that hasn't happened here. Lack of parking spaces is one of the negative fallouts of this," he said. He pointed out that the sewage drain at the intersection of 16th Main Road and 7th Cross was clogged. "Repeated complaints to the BWSSB have only resulted in empty promises," he said.
"Parking is erratic, but the traffic police do nothing," said another resident. He said he had noticed that traffic police towed away vehicles from certain areas only, but did not touch those parked haphazardly on other roads. Instead of towing vehicles, the police should be given cameras. "Take pictures of all violations and mail it to the people concerned," he suggested. "This is adequate proof and the violators won't be able to deny it. The government will also save costs."
"The roads have been newly paved but they have no speed-breakers," lamented Natarajan, another resident. "Vehicles speed on the roads like they are on a highway."
Water is another serious concern for the residents. Susan Verghis said that water supply was unreliable in the locality.
After residents voiced their grievances, justice (retd) MF Saldanha, who was the guest of honour for the morning, took over. "It is the generation of people's power," he said. Citizens should act to bring about lasting change. He urged the residents to form a committee to make corporators and other civic agencies more accountable. The state government, corporators, agencies and citizens must work in tandem to improve the city. He drew the local corporator Kokila's attention to the issues raised and urged her to take appropriate action to solve them.
He said there were solutions to every concern raised by the residents in the meeting. "The city is reeling under serious threat, with temperatures rising, trees being cut and infrastructure in a dismal state. Which is why we need quick solutions," he said.
He also gave examples where he, in his individual capacity, worked on providing solutions. Finally, he spoke of the need to put checks and balances in place to ensure that the delivery system was made more efficient and the authorities were accountable for the work they did.
The local corporator, who was present at the meeting, said she would look into the problems and concerns of the residents. "The budget will be announced on August 15. After that, I will personally visit all the areas in my ward and ensure that the work is done," she said.

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