Earlier this month, I sent the following letter to the The Chief Justice of Karnataka regarding storm water drains, an issue that I have tried to take up with the concerned government authorities without much success. Remarks that the High Court (HC) of Karnataka made on storm water drains prompted me to write this.
The Chief Justice
High Court of Karnataka
Bangalore 560001 March 13, 2013
KIND ATTN: The Honourable Judges of Karnataka High Court
Subject: STORM WATER DRAINS (SWD’s) IN BANGALORE CITY
I understand from the newspapers that the Honourable Court is seized with a matter concerning storm water drains in the city and has passed some orders. I have been trying to bring some happenings that cause concern, in the area where I live, to the attention of the local Councillor and the MLA with little success. I would like to bring the following to the Court’s kind notice in the hope that more damage may be stalled and some quick action be taken.
1. The BBMP has taken up a work of "rebuilding" the rain water gutters or SWD’s. The gutters were built with granite lined masonry and were in good condition except for some soil /silt filling up in places. Instead of clearing up the soil and such other material, BBMP has embarked upon a reconstruction of the drains, breaking up the granite slabs and rebuilding them with concrete.
2. In most places, if not all, the so called drain is now above the road level. In addition, it is covered over with granite slabs and completely covered up. Some small grated holes are left for "water to flow into the drain". But no water will flow as it is above the road level. The BBMP seems to have completely lost sight of the purpose of SWD and only concerned with putting up a granite and concrete structure. The work goes on with no standards of construction followed (such as curing) or supervision by any knowledgeable person. In places, you will also find the manhole covered over by granite slabs and cemented! (The "engineers" say that the house owners insist that they do such things).
3. Apparently, in view of the acute water shortage in the city, the BBMP had passed a resolution (on the recommendation of a committee) that the road sides should not be concreted to enable as much of the rainwater to seep in as possible. It is difficult to understand how and why, in these days of water shortage and funds crunch, BBMP has taken up this entirely wasteful work that is also counter productive.
4. When small animals like rats, cats or dogs die in these closed up gutters, their carcasses will remain there creating a public health hazard and a nuisance.
5. In addition, in an area like where I live which is full of steep slopes, many roads and residences are below the road level. Closing of the storm water drains means that water will have to gush down the roads causing hardship to residents and users of the roads.
Hence, I request that a direction be issued ASAP to stop covering up of the drains. Further breaking down of the good old well-designed and built, granite-lined SWD’s should be also stopped.
Here are some points apart from what I have written in that letter:
1. The streets where the is work is being done have been facing acute water shortage for over a year now. Most of the houses purchase water privately at least once a week. The BWSSB tankers also supply water sometimes.
2. Illegal road-widening, which some people have welcomed as it allows them to park their vehicles on the slabs has left no room for trees that should have been planted in the little strip. The radiation from the granite slabs will make the place unbearably hot as well.