Namma Bengaluru: Long road ahead for BBMP’s white-topping project

Slow pace of work irks citizens, who fear onset of monsoon will compound problems

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s ambitious — and controversial — project to white-top 93.47 km of roads across the city has started testing the patience of citizens owing to the slow pace of work. People fear that the fast approaching monsoon may further delay implementation of the project.

The project is supposed to be completed by the end of September 2019, but only 28.47 km has been completed so far.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has touted various advantages of the project, including longevity and low maintenance cost. But lack of cooperation and coordination between government agencies has hindered the pace of work, which has resulted in water logging during rains, traffic jams, problems for commuters and pedestrians, and increase in dust in the surrounding areas.

Civic officials say finding alternate routes is a big challenge and is the main reason behind the slow pace of work, compounded by lack of coordination between agencies.

“We are not getting clearance from BWSSB for a few roads as they need to rebuild the existing lines before white-topping. The roads won’t be opened for the public even after white-topping is completed as other agencies have to finish civil works. Once completed, the roads will last for at least 25 years with minimum maintenance,” an official said.

Traffic expert M.N. Sreehari said BMRCL, BWSSB, GAIL (India) and various government agencies are carrying out projects across the city. White-topping is being carried out in parallel leading to chaos. “The white-topping project should have been commissioned only after proper planning, and after consulting various government agencies, including the police,” he said.

Many are worried about the flawed execution of work, negligible space for footpaths and parking, and the lack of safety measures.

Prajwal S. said in the stretch from Kanakapura Road to Banashankari temple, the paver blocks that have been put at JSS Junction have a smooth surface due to which two-wheelers skid frequently. It is dangerous to ride on during rain.

According to Suryakiran Gowda, a resident of N.R. Colony, the height of roads and footpaths have gone up creating problems for houses along the road, which are at a lower level.

Residents of Adugodi said white-topping work started almost a year ago, but is yet to be completed disrupting access to the bus stop in front of the police quarters.

Chennamma, a flower vendor, says, "There’s no space to walk. We have to use the inner roads to get to the bus stop. Crossing the road is a challenge in itself.”

It is a different scenario at Goraguntepalya on Tumakuru Road where the service road is half done. “Commuters are facing problems as there is no continuity in the service road, and the traffic situation remains bad,” said Mohan K., who takes the route daily on a two-wheeler.

Ashish Verma, Associate Professor, department of Civil Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc,), said that road and construction dust are one of the major sources of air pollution, especially the hazardous PM 2.5. “When metro, hundreds of kilometres of roads, flyovers, underpasses and other public utilities are being built at the same time across the city, it leads to an increase in pollution.”

Sanjeev V. Dyamannavar, an urban commute activist, said citizens will have to suffer during the upcoming monsoon. “Providing alternate routes during the monsoon is absolutely essential and a challenge as well. If they cannot provide alternate routes, then it is better to temporarily stop some projects until the end of the monsoon.” he said.

BBMP officials, however, maintained that the project has gained momentum over the past few weeks and will be completed as soon as possible.

With inputs from Sanjana N, Anahita Ananth

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