Bengaluru: Heavy showers have continued to wreak havoc in Bengaluru over the last few weeks as the city recorded its highest rainfall in at least 115 years. Just days after four people lost their lives in rain-related accidents, five more died on Friday in various incidents across the city, increasing this season's death toll in rain-related incidents to 16.
Heavy rains have resulted in severe waterlogging and traffic jams on the roads. In some areas, like Laggere, rainwater washed away furniture, food grains and fuel, leaving people living there in dire straits.
N Gayatri, a resident of Laggere said, "The rainwater has flooded my house and destroyed the furniture. Food grains like ragi, rice and peanuts have washed away. (But) we get no attention as we live off the main road."
"The incessant rains have destroyed five houses. My compound broke down. My furniture and television set also got washed away," said S Periaswamy, another resident of Laggere.
Laggere is a low lying area of Bengaluru which is prone to flooding each year. But never before has there been a flood of this magnitude, said residents of Laggere.
"I lost my friend because of the rains," said Darshana, a young boy who lives in a hut by a heavily flowing drain. The residents said that at least two had died in the area because of the incessant downpour.
Jaimala, another resident of Laggere, was reduced to tears. "I have lost utensils, television, and my refrigerator. My daughter's exams are coming up and she has lost all her books in the rain."
Rainfall has also affected many parts of Kengeri, which does not have a proper drainage system.
Prathibha S, a resident of Mariyappa Palya in Kengeri, said, "Five to six accidents have happened (in Kengeri) so far. Due to flooding, potholes get filled and disappear under water which causes accidents."
Flooding and traffic jams have become a common occurrence in Nayandahalli as well. The width of the roads has shortened considerably due to the ongoing Metro construction, which has compounded the problem further. The roads are also pothole-ridden.
Basavraju, a resident of Nayandahalli said, "It started raining at 6:30 pm and the water overflowed from Vrishabhavathi River and came onto the roads. Two autos and one car were seen floating while a BMTC bus stopped at the centre of the road. The water was as high as the windows. The policemen could do nothing about it as the water level was too high."
Traffic jams on the flooded streets have made daily commuting a nightmare for the people in the city. "It took me an hour to drive the stretch that normally takes me fifteen minutes. Due to the rain, the roads were jammed," says Nimmi Mathew, a resident of Sarjapura.
"The time taken to commute to office has considerably increased in the past week, forcing people to work overtime to compensate for the time lost in travelling," she added.
Raghuveer, a resident of JP Nagar, said that he couldn't travel to the bank as cabs or autos refused to take him. "They all were worried about the potholes in the road. I was ready to pay more but nobody wanted to go."
Judhister, a resident of Global Village Tech Park said, "The water flooded into the car parking area of Global Village and many cars were seen floating. My friends and I helped a few people push their cars." He also said that the rain had wrecked the cafeteria of Global Village Tech Park.
The unprecedented waterlogging has forced a few companies to ask their employees to work from home. "Due to water logging in front of Ecospace at Bellandur, we were allowed to work from home," says Reshma DR, an IT professional.
Many expressed their concern over having to drive through roads that hide dangerous potholes under the floodwaters.
Sumi M, a resident of BTM Layout, expressed her fear of the unpredictable rains. "I am afraid to step out of my house every day, anticipating the heavy rain. The death traps hiding in the shape of huge potholes could be anywhere," she said.
Aswin MV, a digital marketing agent, complained of the perpetually flooded stretch of road in Konappana Agrahara, Electronic City. "There is no proper drainage, due to which waterlogging is a major problem... every time it rains, the drain overflows, and a large portion of the road is under dirty water. There are potholes hidden under them too. I fear for my life as I ride over them." He explained that the water can only evaporate by itself as there is no other way to drain it.
Renukumar, assistant executive engineer at Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board stated that he had never seen rains of such intensity in the west region of Bengaluru in the last few years. "Usually, there are some areas prone to floods and we mark them, but these rains have actually left all of us puzzled and worried this year," he added.
Asked about the water logging problem, chief engineer at Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) MR Venkatesh said that the BBMP has kept aside Rs 800 crore for the fixing up the city in the wake of the heavy rainfall. "We have stormwater drains, and they work well. With all the heavy rain, waterlogging of this proportion should be anticipated. The BBMP is doing all that it can to combat the problem of flooding; we have already started fixing up the potholes and clearing the flood water," he said.
Professor Shivakumar Babu, of the Geotechnical department of the Indian Institute of Science, spoke of the need of a resilient and scientific system to combat flooding in the city. "The key point is to understand the natural drainage of the land. People should know where the water comes from." He said that there should be a proper alert system and a systematic approach to constructing buildings so as to not disturb the natural flow of water.
Vishwanath Srikantaiah, an environmentalist and advisor at Biome Environmental Solutions talks about sustainable methods to combat the problem of flooding in the city. In a Facebook post, he highlighted the possible reasons behind waterlogging:
Encroachment, building on ill-defined waterways, drains and lakes, dumping of waste into stormwater drains and comprehensive planning are a few of the problems, said Vishwanath. "When each micro-watershed is understood separately and jointly with the river basin, flood prevention will be better and systematically done. It takes an unprecedented monsoon to wake a city up but it helps only if we learn the right learns and act on it."
The authors are journalism students at Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bangalore
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Updated Date: Oct 21, 2017 16:17:42 IST