Friday, January 29, 2010

Storm-water drain work cuts off access to homes in Whitefield

Storm-water drain work cuts off access to homes in Whitefield
Bangalore, Jan 29:

Chris L Johnson writes an open letter to BBMP Commisssioner Bharat Lal Meena on the problems created by the storm water drain work undertaken by the civic body in Whitefield.

An open letter written to BBMP Commissioner BL Meena

Dear Mr. Meena,

Let me begin by saying that the inclusion of Whitefield under the purview of the BBMP has seen some significant improvements in the amenities available to its residents. In particular we have seen great improvement in the roads in the area which are now among the best in the City.

We are also pleased to see the construction of pavements for pedestrians as well as the construction of storm-water drains as these will greatly benefit the resident taxpayers. The road widening efforts have also been greatly appreciated.

I however wish to complain strongly about the manner in which the Whitefield BBMP authorities have taken up the construction of a storm water drain outside my home on the morning of Monday, January 25th. on the Whitefield main road.

1) First and foremost, when a project of such a magnitude is taken up, it is incumbent on the BBMP department concerned to advise all the houses concerned the particulars of the project informing them of the likely date of commencement and the planned date for completion of the work. This is particularly important when the nature of the work is such that residents will not be able to utilize their vehicles (cars/motorcycles etc.) for a number of days. Advance warning will enable the persons concerned to make alternate arrangements for parking/access to their vehicle/s during the period of construction.

In my case had my security guard not informed me that the JCB was already digging the road in front of my house, I would not have been able to remove vehicles required for my daily use out of the premises.

2) Secondly, when the BBMP department concerned is undertaking a project which involves digging of a trench some 4 feet deep and 6-8 feet wide, it is incumbent on the department to advise the other Bengaluru Service Departments, ie. BSNL, BWSSB, BESCOM etc. that they propose to dig up the road. This would enable the concerned departments to depute personnel to the site to ensure that the services provided by them are not adversely effected.

The JCB operator who was given the duty of digging a trench for the storm-water drain in front of my home was successful in cutting the main telephone cable connecting many Whitefield residents who had to suffer without the use of their internet or telephone services for the next couple of days. He was also successful in cutting the pipes through which municipal water is supplied to my home and those of my neighbours. Photographs of the damage done the water and telephone supply are attached.

Incidentally when I approached the Whitefield office of the BBMP to complain about the cutting off of my water supply, I was given the name and telephone number of the concerned Engineer. The Engineer when contacted on the telephone advised me that the problem had nothing to do with the BBMP and I would have to contact the water supply authorities!
There was no hint of regret at the inconvenience caused by the department. This I did and I am happy to report that the concerned Engineer dispatched his personnel to the site within 30 minutes of my speaking to him. Although the costs of repair had to be borne by me, since the water mains was not damaged, the technician repaired the rupture and I have now got my water supply functioning again.

Had the contractors employed by the BBMP been properly supervised ,care would have been taken to ensure that the digger did not damage the other services provided to the area.

3) Thirdly, when the construction work involves digging a ditch of the above mentioned dimensions and when quite clearly it is impossible for any person to cross without the aid of planks of wood etc. to place across the gap, ( see photographs attached ) it is incumbent on the BBMP to ensure that such facilities are provided so that persons can enter/exit the homes/offices etc. so effected.

As can be seen from the photographs attached no such measures were taken either at that stage on even 5 days following the digging of the trench!
As can be seen in one of the photographs, one of the most popular doctor’s clinics is adversely effected. Even the nurse who works at the clinic was unable to go inside the premises. Several persons (including children, sick and aged persons, persons with moving difficulties ) could not meet the doctor as a result of the negligence of the BBMP contractor.

In subsequent days I and the persons affected had to prepare makeshift arrangements over bamboos, wooden planks etc. to be able to access our homes/premises. In the unfortunate event that a person attempting to cross over the ditch fell in and was injured, who would be responsible? Would the BBMP accept responsibility and pay for any injuries caused? Who will provide answers?

This is not acceptable in a so called world-class city which Bengaluru claims/hopes to be. One would think that with the international travel that public officials take at taxpayer expense they would have seen how civic authorities in countries in the West and in the Far East conduct civil engineering works in a manner that causes the minimum inconvenience to the city’s residents.

My purpose in taking the time and effort to bring this incident to your notice is to ensure with your active participation that other taxpayers and residents of this lovely city do not have to face personal inconvenience and aggravation when the BBMP undertakes civil projects of this nature in other locations.
Perhaps meetings could be held with the senior officers/engineers under your control where some of the basics mentioned above could be brought to their attention and focus. When the BBMP contracts work out to third parties the concerned engineers cannot and must not abrogate their responsibilities and allow largely uneducated labourers and workers to undertake such projects without supervision.

I trust that you will accept these comments in the spirit that they are made – ie. to see that the BBMP and its various departments work efficiently and professionally so that the rights of the citizens of this city are not trampled on but are respected and that Bengaluru does achieve its ambition to be one of the best cities in India/the world to live in.

With kind regards.

Yours sincerely,

C.L. Johnson
276, Main Road
Bengaluru 560-066


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