The deja vu over the monsoon

City not yet ready for monsoon says the Deccan Herald. Well, duh!
Can you remember when the rains have not screwed with Bangalore’s roads and traffic? I can’t. (Yesterday I was near the Inner Ring Road (Koramangala) – Indiranagar flyover and the waterlogging had slowed the traffic to a crawl. )

The Bangalore Water Sewerage and Supply Board (BWSSB) has held the residents responsible for the waterlogging in many areas. “The underground drainages are not meant to be used as storm water drains. Storm water drains should be used from draining out the rain water,” said Prahallad, the Public Relation Officer of the BWSSB.

And, he’s partially right. Citizens are partly to blame because people insist on throwing garbage, construction debris, and whatever else into storm water drains and its inevitable that they’ll fill up. So, if you’ve thrown garbage on the street, it’s your fault.

Now comes the killer.

He [Prahallad] said the problem may not emerge this time because the BWSSB has cleaned at least 15,000 to 20,000 manholes out of 1.30 lakh manholes in the City, before Monsoon. These manholes, which were cleaned this year, are mainly in the low-lying areas, said Prahallad.

I wrote a snarky paragraph about this, but edited it because when you consider the magnitude of the effort, 15,000 to 20,000 manholes is no joke. Still, that represents just 15% of the manholes that would have been cleaned just in time for the monsoon. Let me do the math for you: 85% not cleaned. Of course, not all of the 85% need cleaning but you have to wonder if the 15% is enough. The smart money is on “not”.

I’ve written about Bangalore’s inability to handle the rains before, as have many others, but it’s the same story every year. It doesn’t matter which party is running the government, we seem to have the same problems. We hear about the development agenda and about big infrastructure spending but the ground reality isn’t matching up.

As much as this is the fault of the government and the civic bodies, this is partly our fault too. If we continue to accept these kinds of hardships and don’t do anything, we must accept a share of the blame. If people held a rally to protest the problems we face during the monsoon, the government would be forced to act. We need to ask and expect more from our civic bodies and our government.

Our responsibility doesn’t just end with voting in elections: that’s just a small part of the role we need to play.

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