Thursday, April 26, 2007

Get it done in 20 days or I'll throw you out, thunders Kumaraswamy

Get it done in 20 days or I'll throw you out, thunders Kumaraswamy

Staff Reporter

Slow pace of work on storm water drains blamed for city's rain woes

# Chief Minister-speak Consultants hired by those who wanted to turn city into Singapore
# Do you design drains to last for five years or the next 25?

NOT UP TO THE MARK: Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and Industries Minister Katta Subramanya Naidu inspecting rain-affected Vasanthnagar in Bangalore on Wednesday. — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

BANGALORE: Much to the disgust of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, the slow pace of work on remodelling storm water drains has emerged as the sole reason for flooding, which destroyed homes in the recent rain in the city.

During his continuing tour of the flood-affected areas of the city, the Chief Minister expressed unhappiness over the poor progress of the storm water drain remodelling project, which has been on since 2005.

"Contractors have not done any work. They have just put up retaining wall for some 10 feet and done nothing else," the Chief Minister said.

He blamed consultants chosen under former Chief Minister S.M. Krishna for the mess. Mr. Kumaraswamy sarcastically remarked they had been hired by those who had wanted to turn Bangalore into Singapore.

He asked Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike Commissioner K. Jairaj: "Do you design the storm water drains for five years or for the next 25 years? Who are the designers?"

Mr. Jairaj replied that the design for the storm water drain remodelling project was taken up by a French firm, Stup Consultants.

"Two per cent of the project cost had been set aside for the design. Yet it is so poor that water stagnation and flooding is common every time it rains," he said.

Accompanied by a number of officials he visited Vasanthnagar, Ulsoor, Shivajinagar and National Games Village. Mr. Kumaraswamy, in his trademark style, took officials to task for neglecting work on storm water drains.

On Annaswamy Mudaliar Road, where 45-year-old Lakshmi drowned in the early hours of April 22, the drain that collapsed continues to remain so. Mr. Kumaraswamy said, "I do not care about what package it falls under. I will give you 20 days to bring some changes on ground. If you do not do so, then I will suspend all the engineers involved."

Encroachment and official connivance in allowing it was on display at HKP Road in Shivajinagar, the worst affected area that the Chief Minister went to in this visit. A stretch of the retaining wall of the storm water drain collapsed in the rain on April 21 and flooded the area.

A senior corporation official Harsh Gupta said that 380 houses had been illegally built on the storm water drain.

Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board Chief Engineer Venkat Raju said that there was no place to lay sewage lines which was the reason they had not been able to divert sewage from the storm water drain.

At Vasanthnagar, residents complained of flooding and the residual smell and slush. Shashikala Mohan, a resident, said that every time it rained, houses were filled with at least four feet of water.

"For you this is a new experience, but we have been living with this for about 10 years now," she said.

At the Guru Nanak Bhavan junction, the road is in a mess following a long-delayed work on enabling easy flow of sewage and rainwater. At the National Games Village, encroachment of a drain resulted in the slow movement of sewage and rainwater.


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