Having to commute by bus from Malleshwaram to Citizen Matters office – on Sarjapur Road, Bengaluru, has been a true eye-opener to me. The major learning has been this: Own a vehicle, and learn to drive, even if you would be adding to the mess already on the road, against your consciousness.
Sarjapur Road is an “upscale,” developing area where you see a lot of tech companies and residential apartments coming up. However, if you love to take on the challenge of walking on the road amidst vehicles, yet manage to be alive, the stretch on Sarjapur main road, from Jakkasandra government school to Agara lake junction offers you a grand chance to do this. Here’s what is on offer.
With the footpath occupied by parked vehicles in some places and non-existent in other places, pedestrians avoid walking on this road during rush hours, as there is no guarantee for life. Open drains filled with garbage only add to the mess. Here is how people and vehicles try to co-commute on the road.
The footpath is either occupied by parked vehicles, or by extra fixtures or boards meant to attract people towards businesses, or simply by the stench of chicken stall. Not just people, there are other competitors who are vying for a share of road for themselves. See this.
This stretch was one of the 120 roads recognised to be improved and asphalted on priority basis by the BBMP Major Roads and Infrastructure Department. In order to expedite the work, the work had been given to Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Limited (KRIDL) while some works were to be undertaken by the Land Army.
The Major Roads Department had projected a cost of Rs. 3 crore to asphalt and improve the road from Sarjapur main road from 1st block Koramangala to 14th main Jakkasandra and 14th main HSR layout from Sarjapura road to Outer Ring Road. Here the improvement implies desilting of drains and building good footpath etc.
During the election season, cement kerb stones were brought and were placed all over the roadside, giving the impression that the road will finally see some footpath. And here is what happened to the kerb stones: the chaiwala who has his shop nearby got a free bench for his customers! Cool idea, no?
The road was asphalted in one night, using the pre-mixed cold mixture that does not require any machinery on site, usually used to fill potholes. After two months, parts of the road are already showing signs of depression, which will lead to potholes in future.
Hopes and only hopes, no action
However, when we contacted BBMP to understand the situation, there seemed to be a ray of hope – it looked like someday the road will get a footpath. S H Pujari, Assistant Executive Engineer, Koramangala Sub-division, BBMP, said, “The contractor is working at present near Wipro Park. He will reach the Sarjapur signal soon. He started the work two week ago.”
After a week, there was no progress made. The contractor did not reach the area at all. We called up S H Pujari to ask what really transpired. He said, “The work is handed over to Land Army who are given time of six months to complete the work. We have stopped the work because of rains.”
Before fixing the footpath, the drains are supposed to be desilted. Due to heavy rain in the past few weeks, the drain got clogged near DCB bank. This was opened immediately, desilted and repaired, however it was never closed. Open drain and the silt from the drain are lying next to the chai shop there. All kind of flies and insects you can expect to feed on the drain debris are also present. Here’s how the scene looks.
When asked, Rajesh who is the BBMP Assistant Engineer of Koramangala Sub-division said, “We need to close the drain, but before that a wall needs to be constructed around it. The work is in progress.” However, we don’t see any progress, in this place which is just in front of Citizen Matters office.
Jakkasandra corporator, Sarawasthamma seems ignorant about the matter. She said she got sanction for the project and will happen in due course of time, but she wasn’t aware of the problems plaguing the pedestrians. She said wherever there’s flooding in the drains, work is being carried out. However, according to her, engineers are busy solving garbage crisis, so could not close the drain. She also did not give any timeframe to finish the work.
BWSSB also has contributed it share to the mess. The drinking water line that goes on Sarjapur Road via the drain from Agara lake has a leakage that has been there for a long time now. Water constantly gushes out of the one foot-wide pipe and falls into the drain.
The areas beyond this in Sarjapur Road are seriously water-starved. It is said people dig borewells illegally in the Bellandur lakebed to supply tanker water to the apartments. And BWSSB that keeps cribbing about not having enough water has turned a blind eye to this and many other leakages! Talk about saving water!
The major drain that comes from Agara lakeside is another mess filled with garbage. There seems to be no formal door-to-door auto for collection of waste here, so everybody ranging from shoppers to residents to housemaids get rid of the garbage by throwing it into the drain.
Road-full of vehicles but no BMTC
Bus stand in Jakkasandra has been converted into an auto stand. To catch a bus, people have to stand in front of the autos and wave their hands in order to be seen by the drivers.
Commuting by bus towards Kempegowda Bus Station after 5pm is a big problem here. Buses towards Majestic come one after another between 3.30 pm to 4.45 pm, which seem to stop after that. The crowd waiting for buses swells up after 5pm, but the frequency and timings of the buses is just unpredictable.
The bus bearing K5 is the lifeline that joins HSR Layout to Mallasandra – one end of Bangalore to another. As your editor waits for this bus bound for Malleshwaram, with the thronging crowd, one can see lot of Volvo buses bearing the board ORRCA (Outer Ring Roads Companies Association) meant for ferrying employees of companies on Outer Ring Road passing on. These are almost empty, and the road brims with two-wheelers, autos and cars, but not BMTC buses. Often there is no sign of even K5, and one has to settle for cut-service commutes by getting down midway and hopping on to another bus.
This is a routine scene. Complaining to BMTC has been on no use. BMTC has neglected this area assuming that everyone who travels in peaktime is a car owner. If yours truly is able to leave home before 8.30 am, the day is saved as there will be some bus in Majestic. Otherwise, surely a two-and-a-half hour journey by bus will follow, while there are no direct buses from Majestic towards Sarjapur Road. They decrease with time, after 9am, and one has to resort to auto.
The question that comes to mind: Is Bangalore meant only for those who use personal vehicles? Don’t pedestrians and bus commuters have a place in “upscale” areas of Bangalore?
With inputs from Nikita Malusare, staff reporter, Citizen Matters