On 23rd June, early in the morning, Ward 179 (Shakambari Nagar) MLA B N Vijay Kumar, BBMP councillor for the ward, B Somashekhar with a group of some 15 people including engineers from BBMP, BWSSB and other civic agencies visited residents door to door. The ‘padayatre’, as it was termed was in its fourth day. They had earlier visited Jayanagar 5th block, 8th block and Shakambari Nagar 7th main previously.
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“Ella channagidiya antha vicharskond hogakk bandidivi” (We have come to ask if everything is alright here), was the phrase heard repeatedly. The group moved briskly so as to be able to cover more than a hundred houses in a little more than an hour.
An army of pourakarmikas were on standby to ensure that any cleaning work happened on the spot. Garbage was cleared, roads swept and when residents complained of stray dog menace, dog catchers from local animal welfare association in charge of sterilisation were called in immediately. Stray cows too were rounded up and taken away by the Animal Husbandry department. Another resident complained that there was no sign announcing a dead end in her street and vehicles unaware of it would cause traffic congestion there, a barricade with a sign seemed to be magically conjured and placed.
Speaking to Citizen Matters later, Vijay Kumar said that this was the second such pada yatre in three years. “When we announce the walks, civic authorities clear small problems in the area before we visit. Through such initiatives, we come to know about the ground issues which, otherwise, might not come to our attention.”
The majority of complaints received, he says, are related to sanitary lines being blocked. “To address the issue, we are planning to get workers in one block and get about 100 – 150 manholes cleaned in one day.” He adds that among other problems brought to their notice were garbage, water pressure and dog menace.
Popular theatre person, Sreenivas Kappanna, a resident of the area was impressed by the visit from Vijay Kumar and Somashekhar. “This is expected from an elected representative in a democracy but it rarely happens. It is nice to see them reaching out to people,” he said.
Though residents were happy that their elected representatives were reaching out to them, a lot of them remained skeptical. “We have had problems with flooding for more than ten years and it has remained unresolved. Though this is the first time an MLA has visited door-to-door and enquired about our problems, we will know its effectiveness only if the issues are resolved,” said Kumar, 73, retired Vice-chairman of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board who has been living in the layout for 12 years. His sentiments were shared by most residents who had poured out their grievances.
The programme will go on for another two months with the next leg beginning in the first week of July.