With BBMP elections round the corner, Citizen Matters along with resident’s welfare associatons of JP Nagar (ward no: 177) and Sarkki (ward no: 178) organised a combined debate-cum-discussion for the candidates and residents of these areas on March 20th at Mahatma Play home grounds, JP Nagar.
While Chandrashekar Raju (BJP), Teshi Venkatesh (JD(S)), and Prakash Kumar (Congress) addressed the concerns from residents of JP Nagar; candidates from Sarakki, namely, Swarnalatha (JD(S)) and Arun Kumar (Congress) discussed their plans on how to bring about change in their ward.
The debate also saw nearly 100 residents from both the areas and from different walks of life come together to put forth issues that needed solving by their soon-to-be elected corporator.
The main areas of the discussion were the problems citizens have been facing mainly water supply.
Residents of both the wards said they have been unable to access enough water, there has been not enough pressure for water to come through and many valves were dysfunctional. Residents also alleged that leakage in water pipes is a constant problem especially in the 4th, 5th, and 6th phases of J P Nagar and have not been fixed by the BWSSB.
Acknowledging that that water supply in the areas were a cause for worry, Kumar, said, "More than 450 lakh litres of Bangalore’s water supply comes from ground water resources. Therefore, there is an urgent need to improve the dwindling ground water table." He added, "As a corporator, I will push for the planned Hemavathi River line project since it is a lasting solution to our water problems."
Sumalatha, the JD (S) candidate from Sarakki insisted that rain water harvesting projects have to be implemented in the area in order to have continuous supply of water. She added, "Also, if I am voted into power, I will ensure that public meetings are conducted on a regular basis to educate people on the importance of water conservation."
Though these suggestions were welcomed by the audience, many thought that they did not solve immediate quandaries. Residents of the Ragiguda slum, for example, said that water supply in their area had been next to nil from the past three to four months.
To which Raju replied, "It is impossible for there to be a water supply shortage for such a long period of time". He added that he has personally seen to the installation of four bore-wells, three of which are in working condition and supply good water once in every two days. "I think the problem is that you have inadequate storage facilities for the water and not water shortage".
Members of the Sarakki slum brought up another problem. They said that the water being supplied to them for the past two months is contaminated with drainage water. They also said that even though repeated oral complaints had been addressed to BWSSB they had gone unanswered.
Raju then urged, "It is important to lodge a written complaint in such cases."
Residents of both the wards stressed the need for emergency crews that will help put an end to water leakages and the importance of reviving lakes to solve the water crisis.
Issues such as the Akhrama Sakhrama scheme were also brought to the candidates’ notice. All the candidates unanimously decided that they would support the people and see to that they did not suffer. Still, problems of the lower income group seemed to take a backseat at the forum even though they were fairly represented.
When Pushpa, a domestic helper from JP Nagar, asked if the coporator will help her and other domestic servants procure basic rights regarding pay and holidays, Venkatesh, the candidate from JD (S) for JP Nagar said, "There is no need for you to approach the court or the government for these things. I think it can be sought out between your employer and you."
The forum also discussed the need for more playgrounds and lung spaces in the areas. Residents pointed out that many open spaces and playgrounds had been illegally built upon.
All the candidates also agreed that there substantial efforts had to be made increase the green cover in the areas.
Another major concern of the people was the lack of infrastructure for bus services to operate. Residents claimed that there was not just a lack of bus stands but even bus routes were unclear.
Shashi of JP Nagar said that normal buses had been discontinued in places where they were necessary and urged the next corporator to look into this problem.
Chandrashekhar Raju said, "Yes, there is a need for proper infrastructure. We need to introduce digital boards and footpaths for the commuters to travel easily. We also need to allocate land for bus stands so that bus services run smoothly." ⊕