Why Bengaluru Sank On Independence Day

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Bangalore rain

On Independence Day, Bengaluru woke up not to freedom and joy; many were trapped as the city got pounded and broke a 127 year record of rainfall in August. But who is to blame?

Bangalore rain

This Independence Day, many in Bengaluru did not wake up to joy and freedom. Instead, they had that sinking feeling – literally – as many parts of the IT city just sank like a stone. Bengaluru received 128.7 mm of rain, the highest since 1890, that’s 127 years ago, for August.

But did Bengaluru sink because of just the rain? After all, the city boasts of over 100 lakes, many of which, of course, have been swallowed by land sharks and politicians.

The main reason why Bengaluru sank with water ending up over the roof of parked cars was due to the negligence by the BBMP – the city’s infamous civic body — and a lethargic and commission minded state government. Both these bodies refused to take the warnings from the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC).

Mind you, KSNDMC had rightly predicted that Bengaluru and many parts of Karnataka would receive heavy rainfall in August and September. But the BBMP and the Siddaramaiah government slept over the warnings.

Just last August, the KSNDMC had pin-pointed 174 low-lying areas that could become lakes if the skies opened up a bit generously. An alert Siddaramaiah woke up and sent an army of bull-dozers rolling into many areas to demolish encroachments on storm water drains.

But very soon, the demolition drive came to a screeching halt due to pressure from influential politicians whose buildings were allegedly built on either public drains or encroached land. The BBMP came out with a lame excuse that the civic body did not have surveyors who could locate the drains. As if the drains were needles in a haystack.

And then came the lie. BBMP chief engineer (storm water drain) Siddegowda recently made a loud statement the all the encroachments and obstacles that hindered smooth flow of water in the drains had been cleared. Added to that, he said the BBMP had built new drains too.

 

lake
Froth at Bellandur lake in Bengaluru

All it need is one night’s rain to throw light on Siddegowda’s bluff. If all obstacles were indeed removed and new ones built, why did several localities such as HSR layout, Koramangala, ST bed layout, Talacauvery Nagar and Silk Board go under water. Water, instead of flowing through Siddegowda’s new drains, stormed into houses and apartments.

Will the Siddaramaiah government punish Siddegowda. No, because both are part of a corrupt system.

Even the heart of Bengaluru – the Central Business District – got hit as the posh Victoria Layout got marooned – just like many places in far-off Assam.

Ranjan Bhat, a resident of the locality, was quoted by Bangalore Mirror as satirically saying:  “Rainwater mixed with sewage taught Victoria layout residents a lesson not to support the corrupt and incompetent! In my 44-years of stay in the locality, never had I seen rain water entering houses. But on Tuesday early morning, we were standing in about half-afoot of water inside our houses.”

And in the rains, Bellandur Lake once again began frothing and overflowing to the roads, spreading a stink. This time, local residents say, the froth was worse than it has ever been before. The wave of froth was high enough to engulf a two-storied building.

Experts had found out the cause of the frothing — discharge of sewage water containing household detergents. To stop it from frothing, the experts had suggested building a sewage treatment plant and stopping raw sewage from entering the lake. But the Bangalore Development Authority slept.

But for politicians like Siddaramaiah and City Development Minister KJ George, Bengaluru can sink and curse, lakes can froth; who cares? The people in the areas hardly vote during elections.

Did someone not say that we deserve the politicians we elect?