Dear Karnataka govt, set your priorities for Bengaluru right, before more people lose their lives!

 

To:
Smt. Vandita Sharma, IAS , 
Principal Secretary, Infrastructure Development Department, GOK

Dear Madam, Greetings!

Wishing you and your family, a happy Vijayadashmi. I hope your near and dear ones are also celebrating the festival with same fervor and spirits as done in past years.

On this very auspicious day and occasion, there are families like parents of Poornima Sundaram, age 17, who died in the accident recently in Majestic Area knocked down by a BMTC bus, who are not celebrating. They are mourning the demise of their loved ones when we are celebrating the victory of good over the evil.

A young life is lost not due to any natural causes but by our sheer negligence and ineptness to keep our city roads safe. This incident clearly points out these lives could have been saved. Yes, Poornima need not have died if each one of us had performed our duties faithfully. Poornima would have been alive today if the ministers in-charge, officers like you and others had given some time and taken action to improve the pedestrian safety in the city. Only after precious lives are lost, authorities in the government seem to wake up and order things without any concern to actual need and requirement.

If you have not read this story, please read it here, here and here.

Why are we losing precious lives on streets of Bengaluru? Here are some reasons.

1. No CCTV camera was working at BMTC Bus Station In Majestic.

All 16 CCTV cameras failed – not even one of the 16 CCTV cameras installed at Majestic bus station could capture the incident due to lack of power and backup facility.

The generator was not working for over a month. “It is pitch dark when the power goes off at night and poses a huge security risk for thousands of commuters who use the bus station,” said a shopkeeper on condition of anonymity. The Upparpet Traffic police have taken the security lapse seriously. “We have brought the issue to the notice of higher officials,” said Upparpet police inspector Prakash. BMTC officials said the bus station has no UPS as backup during power cuts. “We will soon give power backup to the CCTV cameras to prevent bigger mishaps,” said B Chandrappa, depot traffic control officer. BMTC operates 1,865 buses making 13,215 trips to and fro from Majestic bus station daily. Source: TOI

Where is the action plan from BMTC to fix the issue? Where are the deadlines and action against those who were given these responsibilities? Public would like to see some heads roll.

2. The skywalks, underpasses don’t really make road crossings easier

Pedestrians are discouraged from using the foot-over-bridges and subways in the area. If you want to cross over from one side of the KBS to City Railway Station, you need to use a combination of foot-over-bridges and subways, which will essentially add up to climbing a six-storey building up and down. Aged people, disabled citizens, women and children can never take this option. Source: The Hindu.

3. There are N numbers of reports on improving Pedestrian Safety Measure Report gathering Dust in places like UDD/IDD/DULT. Source: The Hindu

4. No connecting infrastructure to easy change over from railway station to bus stations or metro train stations

BMTC bus stops and metro stations are constructed without any thought given to needs of pedestrians for safety and usability. Public, pedestrians, commuters just don’t exist for the authorities. Till today, there is no foot-over-bridge connecting Metro station and railway station in Yeswantpur putting public in danger for crossing the road. BMRCL blames railways, railways blames BMRCL. Source: Bangalore Mirror

5. The RITES DPR for suburban rail is with DULT for last six months with no indication of any action on it.

A project that promises to ease problems of city’s 25 lakh daily commuters doesn’t concern you, your department, your ministry, transport ministry or the Chief Minister. I am certain that you will not be aware of this project. IDD Minister is not aware of it or may be not interested. Transport Minister doesn’t care about this. He only cares about BMTC and KSRTC. Chief Minister says it is for the center to do it even though he has sent proposal to railways.

6. The proposals for providing pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure are pending and are given cold shoulder.

Agencies like DULT are happy with weekly and monthly rituals like Cycle Day, car-free days etc, but no real action is taken to build infrastructure for ordinary public.

7. BMTC is happy observing monthly ritual of Bus Day started in February 2010.

BMTC has observed 69 Bus Days so far, but has shown any intent or interest to make it an everyday affair. It doesn’t have any will to do ‘route rationalisation’ based on EMBARQ report. It is lying there gathering dust.

This list is endless. I have just dotted a few to highlight the callousness the authorities have towards improving the safety of public. It seems ordinary citizens like me are not safe any where, Inside or outside our homes.

Madam, it is time to take action. Officers in-charge must be punished. If not, please let the public know why you think you and your department are not responsible for these deaths. Let the public know public safety is not your responsibility. Let the public know government is not responsible for their safety on city roads and elsewhere. How does it matter if I am lynched inside my home or knocked down by a vehicle on the road? Government cannot be held responsible— this is the position taken by a Union Minister.

I can only condole the death of Poornima and others due to authorities sheer negligence. May the soul of Poornima and others rest in peace. May the Almighty give the strength to grieving families to overcome this tragedy and great loss.

Best regards,

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About Khader B Syed 6 Articles
Born in Bangalore, engineer by education and profession, Currently based in USA. Co-Founder, Praja - RAAG (Research, Analysis and Advocacy Group).

1 Comment

  1. Good list. But you left the poor BMTC Bus services. BMTC runs these HUGE and WIDE buses on 1-laned roads causing at least 100,000 traffic slowdowns EVERY DAY and significantly impacting the avg vehicle speed on the roads. Yet not one person complains about this. If this is not insanity what is ? Why the heck BMTC cannot run its own fleet of buses/tempos. These tempos are nimble, fast, can turn easily on 1 lane roads and are great alternative for 1-lane roads (unfortunately most old Blore roads are 1 lane).
    I like to see private minibus services. because anything private is always efficient, better managed.

    Another thing about BMTC buses is its lack of frequency and lack of punctuality.

    3rd thing is the insanity of running HUGE,WIDE BMTC buses in the night when the occupancy rate is VERY LOW. You often EMPTY BMTC buses in the night

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI-MDd3tPK0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMZ0JxgZKRE

    http://www.ichangemycity.com/bangalore/news/minibuses-changing-the-life-of-the-bangalore-commuter

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