Why Koramangala looks like a war zone: Five ongoing projects in 4 sq km

HAPHAZARD 'DEVELOPMENT'

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A well-known architect and town planner recently commented on a WhatsApp group that the whole of Bengaluru had become one construction site – with Koramangala being the epicentre – resulting in the city’s livability index being at its lowest ever.

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If you live in Koramangala, it is hard to not notice all the development projects that are going on.

You have the Ejipura – Kendriya Sadan flyover, the Maharaja Bridge, BWSSB’s 6ft-diameter sewage pipeline project, BBMP’s flood mitigation project, white-topping of roads all over (of course, to be dug up just days later to lay utility lines).

Five major projects are ongoing in Koramangala now, including new sewerage and drainage lines, white-topping of roads, and a flyover (click on the markers on the map to see details)

You name it, it is all there – ‘development’, that is supposed to be the name of the game! The very sight of an earth-mover anywhere in the vicinity now sends shivers down the spine of the resident here.

The five ongoing projects

1) Ejipura-Kendriya Sadan flyover

This 2.4 km-long flyover has 77 pillars, of which many have been built already. But some intermediate pillars are just at the foundation stage, making residents anxious as to whether the flyover would be completed even by the extended deadline of April 2020. There have also been reports of property owners along the stretch refusing TDR as compensation for land being acquired, adding to fears of further delay.

Also, no one is clear as to how land requirement would be managed around the landings at both ends of the flyover, given the non-transparent ways of the BBMP. Around the southern end of the flyover is a temple and a mosque, and the northern end butts into army property.

Starting this massive project in a hurry, just before the 2018 state elections, without wider stakeholder consultations, is in itself questionable. This has meant Koramangala can never consider Metro connectivity, linking Indiranagar and Silkboard. That would have been a far better solution to the traffic problems in Koramangala, and to the connectivity problems citizens face in this IT-BT corridor in general.

2) Maharaja bridge

There are all kinds of vague explanations for demolishing Maharaja bridge that connected ST Bed Layout to the Koramangala 80 ft road (Srinivagilu Main Road). The most plausible explanation is that the bridge was badly damaged when heavy earth-moving equipment was maneuvered over it in the process of clearing the muck in the rajakaluve (major storm water drain) below the bridge.

Maharaja bridge was demolished in mid-March. Pic: Muralidhar Rao

Now, obviously, the BBMP couldn’t have contracted out this muck-clearing job. So, who did it, and where is the accountability? Why weren’t local citizens informed of the decision to demolish the bridge, so that they could plan accordingly rather than being caught unawares?

Even as the Maharaja bridge lay broken, why was prolonged repair works of the remaining two accesses to ST Bed Layout taken up simultaneously? These repair works – along the Srinivagilu village road, and Nilgiri’s junction – had physically cut off S T Bed layout from the rest of the city.

3) NGV – Belur Nagasandra 6ft-diameter sewage line

When Maharaja bridge was about to be reconstructed, the BWSSB suddenly decided to lay sewage pipelines here. The Board had the strange plan to bury huge six-feet diameter sewage pipes under the bed of the rajakaluve, which in turn lies beneath Maharaja bridge!

However, BWSSB had made this decision without the express permission of the BBMP. This eventually led to a tussle between the two, delaying the bridge reconstruction. Now, the pipe-laying has been postponed, but there’s no clarity on how the project would be taken forward. Meanwhile, the rebuilt Maharaja bridge was inaugurated just last week, a whole five months after it was demolished!

4)  4th block flood mitigation plan

The area around Nilgiri’s junction/Wipro Park in Koramangala 4th block gets flooded during rains, probably because of blockages in the drain network. Authorities’ solution to this is to divert excess water from here by building an entirely new drainage line.

The plan is to build a ‘stormwater wet-well’ in Wipro Park that would capture excess water, and then route it through a ‘siphon arrangement’ under the Seva-in-Action bridge. From here, the water would go to a massive box drain, located right next to Prestige Pinewood apartment. And then, the water would join Bellandur lake eventually. The box drain has been built already, and digging for the rest of the project may start anytime.

Box drain under construction next to Prestige Pinewood apartment. Pic credit: Muralidhar Rao

Leave alone the many experienced engineers among residents, even senior officials in BBMP’s SWD (stormwater drain) department seem unconvinced about the efficacy of this complex project. It appears they had been pushed to take it up, for reasons that can only be guessed. Now the fear is that, rather than discharging flood waters into Bellandur lake, the drain could very well cause Bellandur waters to flood back into S T Bed layout and Koramangala 4th block.

5) White-topping

The talk earlier was that Koramangala too would get TenderSURE roads, which the residents were generally happy to welcome. But suddenly it all turned to ‘white-topping’, and not too coincidentally, just before the elections.

It is doubtful if provisions have been made to accommodate all utility lines – existing as well as for future needs – and access to these for repairs. If not, there would be massive digging through layers of concrete later, making for even bigger contracts.

White topping in progress at Koramangala. Pic credit: Muralidhar Rao

As per a news report in Bangalore Mirror, these are the list of roads for white topping. One road in Koramangala has been white-topped already. Though I requested details of these projects at three ward committee meetings, this was not provided.

Adding to the mess created by these projects, are even more works:

  • Bescom’s underground cable laying

Bescom has announced plans to lay underground cables in Koramangala, supposedly to prevent power outages caused by falling trees. But this will almost certainly lead to digging up of the newly white-topped roads.

  • Madiwala market

Decades back, the Madiwala market along Hosur Road was razed, with a promise to the shopkeepers that they would be rehabilitated in a new complex here. But when the new complex was built, these shopkeepers weren’t accommodated. Eventually, they occupied the Sarjapur road stretch between Madiwala and Krupanidhi College, which led to a new set of problems.

  • Madiwala underpass

Bengaluru’s underpasses are notorious for waterlogging. This one, in addition, has serious problems in construction quality, resulting in frequent traffic hold-ups on Hosur Road, an arterial highway.

  • Re-laying of sewage lines

Somewhere along, somebody decided that old sewerage lines needed to be replaced, and all of Koramangala got dug up. It remained like that for years, until contractors extracted their pound of flesh from each resident to have their individual lines linked to the new sewerage lines. Nobody is aware of any study/survey on the need to have undertaken this most disruptive exercise.

  • Telecom cabling strung over trees

A few years ago, the telecom company ACT started offering high-speed internet connectivity to Koramangala residents at attractive rates. As residents started subscribing to it, ugly cabling began appearing all over Koramangala – on trees, lamp poles, buildings, in fact on anything along roadsides. Apparently, the company had been given blanket permission to lay their cables in any manner.

As citizens are beginning to complain about them, a cat-and-mouse game is on between BBMP and these contractors – one cuts the cables, and the other restores these the next day, while subscribers suffer from interrupted connectivity.

These works are of course, apart from the massive private development coming up in the adjoining Nirguna Mandir Layout. This development, in the name of Shantinagar Housing Society, is controlled by a neta, and has been much in the news. There are also many high-rises – almost all violating fire-safety rules – in adjoining revenue layouts, and some even in ST Bed Layout.

All in all, there has been a lot of work going on – essentially, Koramangala has become a contractors’ haven, but a resident’s nightmare.


9 Comments

  1. Further to this all RWA office bearers of all blocks of Koramangala has to meet to undertake any further problems of some positive Residents and try to solve if any further problems still persists by taking up with officials and elected Representatives 👍👍

  2. Many discussions are going on regarding various works in Koramangala Area. People / RWA’s who work for the betterment of their areas depending on the requirment of their Areas, know how much one has to struggle to get their works done. In this respect, we are fortunate that, many of the works / projects aspired by our Members and RWA’s are taken up by the concerned departments due to our area MLA ‘s relentless effort / help. As seen from Mr. Muralidhara Rao list many of the RWA ‘s requested works are going on. As Mr. Nitin Sheshadri has summed up every RWA has got their priority and he is very clear in his opinion and i go with his opinion.
    Mr. Muralidhar Rao has mentioned that, before taking up the works residents were not consulted. I am surprised by his statement. Reason is, i was president of 6th Block RWA for 5 years and active participant of the present committee, and involved in most of the projects discussions. I want to mention here that before taking up each and every work many meeting were held. Those who have seen on whatsapp of their respective areas will agree with me.
    During 1960 when our lands acquired for formation of layout, we are of the opinion that what BDA is doing is unfair and useless as wilson garden was not at all developed.
    Now at the allottees are happy. My only point is all the RWA ‘s are well aware of the projects coming up in our area.
    After seeing many comments, i have to state that, no work was taken up abruptly and it is not possible also. I request all the member RWA ‘s sit together to discuss on how to reduce burden for public and to complete the works faster.

  3. Dear All,

    In response to the blog written above, 4th Block RWA would like to provide our perspective and share our thoughts and feelings. We are responding to the part of the post which been written without experiencing the pain we have suffered.

    4th block Flood Mitigation plan

    4th Block Koramangala has two lowest points in koramangala and occasionally used to flood and get inundated.

    15th August 2017 heavy rains had in KC Valley flooded the low lying areas of Koramangala 4th Block and S T Bed (picture with boat). Many residents woke up to see their homes drowned to ground floor level. This had caused loss of property, trauma, and great disturbance, people had to employ labours to clean their homes with sewage filled rain water, walls of homes wet with infections, groceries washed out, sump filled with sewage took a lot of money and efforts to get to normalcy.

    This traumatic experience repeated 9 times which had developed rainophobia in residents, the moment residents hear about rain their BP used to shoot up. Many got hospitalised for unknown infections, Streets used to be.filledup with sewage muck which used stick to road for a long time infecting residents.

    4th block residents appealed to MLA Shri Ramalinga reddy to help us with an expert consultant to provide long term solution.

    He responded positively and informed BBMP to engage a consultant taking RWA into confidence.

    A series of reiki was conducted by residents during rain and critical Points were identified and feedback was provided to BBMP and consultants to plug the reverse flow from Rajakaluvey by considering

    A. Immediate temporary measures

    B. Permanent solution

    Consultants after various deliberations and site visits provided the parallel drain solution which will disconnect 4th Block from Rajakaluvey which.used to push sewage into 5th Cross, 12th A main areas.

    Parallel drain was planned by taking a lot of parameters like the lay of the land, gradient, Pattern of volume of flow and also the overflow of Mestripalya lake.

    This plan includes carrying heavy rain water flow from.sony world signal to Bellandur Lake. This also helps to recharge the lake

    MLA had also released his funds immediately to undertake quick measures.

    It may also be noted that when a development project is taken up there will be certain temporary inconvenience. These cannot be termed an issue and these works are taken up to the larger interests of the public.

    Koramangala 4th Block RWA

  4. RAJENDRA BABU PRESIDENT STBED RWA SAYS ..
    MAHARAJA BRIDGE remodeling was much needed as swd water was over flowing ,and garbage was accumulating very offen near this bridge due to small water vents of old bridge , now water flowing capacity has increased, no over flow from bridge, old bridge was in delepated CONDITION, CRACKS Were developed , it was on the verge of collapse as reinforcement rods are protruding in water and rusted, in this swd water and sanitary from bwssb was flowing 365 days,new Bridge is justified , now when Bangalore roads floods with rain water our st bed people sleeps with peace because of this aggressive work other wise today would be another night mare ,

    our earlier MLA AND MP ELECT were not bothered about our area , they never visited our area , but now our mla sri Ramalingha reddy RESPONDS ,VISITS,FINDS SOLUTION AND SOLVES IT WITH OFFICIALS, RWA , AND POSITIVE INVOLVING PUBLIC ,

  5. Mr.Muralidhar Rao while narrating about the Maharaja bridge issue misleading the public by giving wrong reasons for remodeling the bridge.one of the main reason is to create more space underneath the bridge, as the vents were insufficient in the wake of ever increasing flood water during rains.the other factors were worn-out condition under the bridge.
    Now the Bridge is ready, with adequate space under.
    Regarding wet well and box drain project to mitigate flooding of 4 th block.It had been planned with consulting firm and ward level engineering department.SWD engineers may not be able to explain on this.

  6. The article may have factual errors, but it rightly points at the nightmarish state of infrastructure in Koramangala. While each of the projects maybe required, the way they are being executed is making it 10 times worse:
    – There is no sense of urgency to finish the projects
    – multiple projects started at the same time, rather than staggering it
    – no accountability to finish the job properly. White topping us done, the ends are left unfinished. Road side is dug to lay new pipe, it is loosely covered by mud and left for traffic to flatten it out

    Talking of metro, it is crazy not to have metro connectivity for koramangala, which a junction point for multiple corridoors. It is easy to list the issues, but the will to find a solution is missing.

  7. We can look at positives too . We are the only ward in India to be processing 4 tonnes of wet waste with the smallest carbon footprint . Couldnt have been possible without help/ support from our MLA.
    We sought funds for recharge wells from our MLA , and we received funds for 100 recharge wells in koramangala. The first one is almost ready . Pls come and have a look. Citizens have to work together and with political support can do wonders.

  8. Murali, want to set the record straight on factual errors. With reference to the elevated road Kendriya Sadan to Ejipura this was part of a presentation that was made to the then Chief Minister as early as 2011 when you were with us. The same was placed for Jnnurm funding by then state government in 2013. Jnnurm funding was cleared in 2014 and the project was cleared for tendering. Before tendering could be completed the Central Govt changed and contrary to all best practices world over, scrapped even projects which had undergone financial closure. RWAs from the area took up the issue with our MLA. We got the State Govt to fund the entire project. And after years of painstaking effort led by citizens and RWAs of Koramangala, this project was started. I don’t know what you mean by implying that citizens weren’t a part of it. Second the Metro on this line is a chimera. Some RWAs had specifically met Sri Pradeep Kharola to explore this possibility when he was head of BMRCL. This was unfeasible because for this branch line BMRCL would need 20 acres of land for a rolling stock Depot. There weren’t 20 acres available anywhere. The Sarjapur road alignment is possible with regard to space but never 100 ft road. It doesn’t elevate the debate to make bald assertions that are factually untrue. Even the assertions on pillars land acquisition etc aren’t accurate. Those of us working with BBMP on this have been attending meetings and getting updates. RWAs from Koramangala are being kept informed on project progress. You are entitled to your opinions but not to your facts.

  9. Many thanks to Sri Muralidhar Rao for the excellent writeup on the present condition of Koramangala.
    I am a senior citizen, an original allottee of site by CITB,in 4th Block, Koramangala in 1975.I built my House in 1982. It was a peaceful place to live in. At that time BDA had strict rules for the construction of houses. We can get OC from BDA only when we comply with the rules. Unfortunately after the taking over of the locality by BBMP, many houses are built without respect to the rules.
    Even though Koramangala is one of the money earning Suburb for BBMP, It is a neglected locality in Bangalore.
    In the name of development money is spent on worthless projects year after year. The new trend is to demolish old houses and build multistorey houses in small sites, without understanding whether the roads will take the load of increased traffic.In the name of white topping roads are replaced with concrete roads without giving provision for water and power lines for houses to be built in future !
    In this haphazard development BWSSB is worst hit. The main storage facility is highly inadequate. Cauvery water is supplied for three hours on alternate days. There is no pressure in the mains to take the water even to house levels, from the road. Our well is completely dry. Rain water harvesting is a cruel joke !
    Added to these, now roads are clogged with uncleared garbage. Even though residents are keep the garbage segregated, it is not cleared on regular basis.
    Added to all these, now the Government is spending huge sums on infrastructural projects about which this writeup has described in details.
    Added to this our BSNL Land line is not working for the past ten days. My complaint gets a recorded reply that the complaint is registered and “the work is being attended to”, when ever I remind.
    Indeed Koramangala looks like a war zone where the Honest tax paying citizen is punished for no fault of his.

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