SWDs cleared, but BBMP ignores secondary drains

In an effort to reduce the damage caused by rains, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has desilted around 220 km of the total 840 km network of stormwater drains. Officials said that the SWDs were prioritised after studying the flow of rainwater to minimise inundation during heavy rain.

A senior BBMP official said, “Desilting has automatically increased the carrying capacity of SWDs, and de-clogging has made possible free and fast flow of water in SWDs, which will naturally reduce flooding.”

However, even with intermittent rainfall in July, citizens in several neighbourhoods complained of roads being flooded. Civic activists and experts in water management attribute this to encroachment of SWDs, clogged secondary drains, indiscriminate construction, unscientific planning of drainage and roads.

Several Residents’ Welfare Associations acknowledge the BBMP’s work in desilting SWDs, but said the approach to rain preparedness requires an integrated effort.

D.S. Rajashekhar, former president of Citizens’ Action Forum, said, “The authorities only concentrate on SWDs, but until roadside drains are cleared, these efforts will yield no result. This is the result of lack of comprehensive integrated planning and poor vision.”

Many residents and even traffic personnel allege that despite BBMP’s assurances, little has been done on the ground. A case in point is Tin Factory Junction, a perennial problem spot.

A traffic police personnel said, “The drain has not been de-clogged. As we are the first responders, all the burden falls on us. Why do civic agencies wait for rain to fix the problem?”

Black spots at K.R. Puram market, Nayandahalli junction on Mysuru Road, and a drain at Ulsoor are other examples cited by traffic personnel.

Venkatesh B.P., a resident of Devasandra Main Road, says, “The drains in this area have been clogged for a long time. The result is that water does not flow into the SWD.”

According to water conservation expert, S. Vishwanath, bad road design is one of the major reasons for flooding. “If the road design is such that rainwater does not flow into drains, the purpose of an SWD is defeated,” he said.

In the wake of a barrage of complaints, BBMP officials said that the repair and restoration of secondary drains is an ongoing process. However, in several areas, work is often stalled due to construction activities like white-topping or laying of underground utilities by the BWSSB.

At Thippasandra Main Road, residents and owners of commercial establishments allege that while secondary drains are currently being unclogged, the garbage removed is simply dumped on the kerb.

The BBMP has introduced a ‘drop-pin’ facility where citizen can now notify officials about clogged drains and garbage black spots by sending the location with images on WhatsApp to 9036304747.

The city continues to reel under a prolonged dry spell with Bengaluru clocking an overall rainfall deficiency of 35% (from June 1 to August 2).

In July, the rainfall deficiency for Bengaluru Urban was 44%.

However, the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre is expecting good rain in south-interior Karnataka, including Bengaluru, in August.

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