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Who Is Responsible For The Bangalore Rain Deaths?

Posted by Vidyashankar Ramashesha in Environment, Society
October 16, 2017

Bengaluru has seen record-breaking rainfall this season. As a result, the potholes have already claimed four lives in Bengaluru. While three more lives were lost after being swept away in stormwater drains. Who will take responsibility for this? Are these deaths going to be considered a norm of life in a metropolitan city?

It should be embarrassing that a metropolitan city has to recruit the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to rescue people from their homes due to waterlogging. Pictures of boats sailing on flooded roads of residential areas show how poorly the city is expanding, with no foresight about its impact on infrastructure health.

What we need to realise is that, in most such cases of flooded roads, it is not a case of flooding at all! It is a clear case of waterlogging! Waterlogging is a result of poor water drainage infrastructure, and flooding is a result of swelling natural water bodies. The former is due to administrative apathy, the latter is due to natural causes. Choking (or non-existent) drainage is risking the lives of Bengalurians.

With roads bearing the brunt of stagnant water, potholes have started to decorate the roads in the thousands. This has become life-threatening to the motorists of Bengaluru. There is no escaping them. If you try, you die trying!

What the media talks about are the potholes on the major roads of Bengaluru. The not-so-major roads are hiding a disaster waiting to unfold. Through huge gaping holes in these roads, water from incessant rain is seeping into the ground, leading to the risk of formation of sinkholes. This danger is not being addressed as the administration’s priority lies in ‘fixing’ roads with huge motorist traffic.

So Whose Fault Is It?

Laying fresh roads during the rainy season – and delaying the clearing of storm drains – have contributed to the mess we see in Bengaluru today. We have had enough articles written in the newspapers about how the destruction of green cover, poor planning, encroachment of lake beds and storm drain choking have put the lives of Bengalurians on the line.

Political parties across the spectrum have reduced themselves to earning brownie points in the pre-election season. The Chief Minister of state, Mr Siddaramaiah, has the nerve to label the deaths as accidents. No one is holding the civic authorities responsible. The taxes we pay to Bruhat Bengaluru Maha Palike (BBMP) to maintain the city infrastructure seem to be grossly mismanaged.

Let us not forget the role of citizens of Bengaluru in creating this mess. Segregation of waste is mandatory in Bengaluru by law, for solid waste management. However, pourakarmikas, the people responsible for collecting garbage in the city, testify that citizens resist the idea of a simple process of segregation of waste. As a result of mixed waste, storm drains get clogged and this leads to rainwater overflowing and ‘flooding’ the roads, which in turn leads to potholes. So, as citizens, we cannot wash away our sins by pointing fingers at civic authorities and policymakers. We have to do our bit for the city.

What Can We Do?

Karnataka will go into elections, sometime early next year. This is our golden opportunity to effect a change. When an aspiring candidate comes to canvass to your home, hold them accountable. Irrespective of whether it is the ruling or opposition party, do not take their finger pointing at their opponents. Ask them their specific plans to prevent such disasters in the future. Make sure it is part of their manifesto before you decide your vote.

As citizens, we have to make sure we are doing our bit to save the city. From participating in waste management to reporting any damage to public properties to the concerned authorities, every little bit will potentially prevent an unnecessary death.