Bengaluru rains: Civic body intensifies demolition drive, govt promises time-bound completion of SWDs
The master plan for stormwater drains is being redrawn to increase its capacity, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said in the state Assembly
Bengaluru: The Bengaluru civic body on Tuesday intensified its anti-encroachment drive, smashing alleged illegal structures that prevented water flow and led to flooding in certain areas recently following heavy rains, while the Karnataka government assured of a time-bound completion of stormwater drain (SWD) works to ease the situation.
The master plan for stormwater drains is being redrawn to increase its capacity, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said in the state Assembly.
Amid allegations of the “high and mighty” being spared of the demolition drive, the government claimed no favouritism will be showed and asserted all illegal structures will be brought down.
Certain areas of the city, called the country’s IT Capital, suffered from a deluge last week following torrential downpour that threw life out of gear and prompted a public debate of gradual encroachments as the cause for flooding.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which launched the demolition drive on Monday, carried out the exercise in Shantiniketana Layout in Mahadevapura zone. The massive flooding in parts of Bengaluru, particularly the information technology corridor and arterial roads, was blamed on such encroachment. Portions of some bungalows in the posh locality were partially damaged in the drive.
A BBMP official, who is part of the drive, said the government has given a go-ahead and there is no question of sparing anyone, however powerful they may be.
Some residents in the layout alleged only poor people are targeted whereas the stormwater drains encroached by the “high and mighty” in the posh layouts and major IT parks have been spared.
Revenue Minister R Ashoka told reporters his department is giving a list of encroachments to the BBMP. “I have given instructions to the deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner and tahsildars to stand with the BBMP and provide them documents, without looking at big people, small people and so on, and unsparingly demolish (illegal) structures,” Ashoka said.
BBMP began the demolition drive on Monday and has identified at least 10 places in Mahadevapura zone, which were choking the flow of rainwater. This included a building, playground and garden of a prominent private school.
With the issue echoing in the state Assembly, Bommai assured the government will ensure a time-bound completion of the stormwater drain work that is underway across the city.
He pointed out that the ongoing work of clearing encroachments along the stormwater drains was taking time and the government is on it. “Work on developing stormwater drains across the city is underway and will continue without any break. I have kept aside Rs 1,500 crore in the budget for this and recently given another Rs 300 crore, so it is a total of Rs 1,800 crore for stormwater drains. This will not be enough and an additional budget will be given,” Bommai said.
He said the government will ensure a total 859.90 kilometres of stormwater drain work gets completed. “It may take two years, but we will provide a ‘continuous’ budget for it and complete the work.”
“There is already a master plan for stormwater drains, it needs to be improved further and redrawn with things like increasing carrying capacity, developing secondary and tertiary drains among other things. I will give order for time-bound completion of the remaining stormwater drain work,” he said, adding that orders have also been given to install sluice gates to all 160-odd lakes.
The Chief Minister was responding to a question by Congress MLA Krishna Byre Gowda during the question hour regarding stormwater drains in Bengaluru.
There are 633 stormwater drains in the BBMP limits, with a total length of 859.90 km, and out of this, 490 km have been completed. The work on the remaining extent, including size-stone masonry and missing bits is under development.
Stating that the recent rains had led to one of the worst situations in a couple of zones like Mahadevapura, Bommai said, “Eighty per cent of Bengaluru’s water flows there, Mahadevapura alone has 69 lakes and all of them are overflowing.”
“So, we will take up the work on war-footing and will give more funds to it in the next budget too,” he added.
Responding to a question by the Congress MLA on the delay in stormwater drain work while their party government had completed the work on half the stretch during its five-year tenure, the Chief Minister said the work has been happening for the last 20 years and the recent heavy rains have made everyone realise the importance of drainage networks.
He said the recent widespread and continuous rains in the city earlier this month were unprecedented. Also, there is a mismatch in the capacity of the stormwater drains and the amount of water that flows during heavy rains, leading to their overflowing, he added.
“Time is required for development of stormwater drains, many of them sanctioned during Congress government’s tenure is being completed now as encroachments need to be removed first but I want to assure one thing that wherever there are encroachments and there is immediate need and it is crucial, work is being taken up there on priority,” he added.
BJP MLA Arvind Limbavali from Mahadevapura, the constituency that was badly hit by recent rains and floods, said the government should not stop the work on removing of encroachments and the opposition should also support it.
Sluice gates should be installed in all lakes of Bengaluru to manage water there, Limbavali said.
He also pointed out that most of the buildings on the outskirts of Bengaluru don’t have rain water harvesting system.
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