Drive down any of the roads in the central part of Bangalore and all of them have a river of stinking sewage flowing on one side of it. The breakfast will rise in your throat, as you walk, ride or drive down Richmond Road, Residency Road or Hosur Road.
Worst sufferers are the pedestrians including children walking to school, as they are splashed with the foul and dangerous muck, which flies up from the tyres of careless motorists.
On Hayes Road, the sewage is bubbling up in resident’s gardens and there is a sense of desperation pervading the area. The Bashas are one such family with the sewage flowing into their backyard as I write this.
Mr Basha a senior citizen who has lived on Hayes Road for over 20 years says, "Because ours is an old house the sewage bubbles up and backs up into our backyard from the main road sewage line. Every now and then we have the entire garden flooded with the stinking mess. We are old people and my grandchildren are not allowed to play outside, when they visit, for fear of stepping in the raw sewage."
He complains that all their requests to fix the issue have been ignored. "In fact the BWSSB men say that anything that occurs in our garden is out of their purview and so will not clean it. This is public sewage flowing into our house, they know that, but refuse to help," he laments.
This is the situation when there are no rains. Residents dread that if monsoon resumes, the sewage would enter their homes as always.
"We have all the rotten food from the Empire hotel and all sorts of chemicals from the hospital, Narayana Netralaya next door flowing into our back yard. The BWSSB men say it is inside our house so they will not come and clean the mess. It is the public sewage which is flowing in here, so please give me a solution. I cannot afford to pay the BWSSB to come and clean every single day," says Mr Gregory who lives on Castle Street.
"The commercial establishments should be made to pay for new sewage lines on Hayes Road," says Mr Basha.
Mr Gregory agrees, " Yes! I agree the hospital and the hotel need to pay towards changing the pipes to a larger diameter on Castle Street as well. No commercial licences should be issued unless that is done."
The residents have been promised new pipes, since the existing ones are from the British era.
"If you turn a residential zone into a commercial one, ensure you have the infrastructure to handle the extra sewage being generated. That is how professionals work," says an incensed Mr Basha.
Venkataraju, the Chief Engineer of BWSSB promised to get it fixed. He sent a junior engineer to come and meet me and said that they would put down new pipes on both the roads, Hayes Road and Castle Street. However this was the promise made last year.
Therefore the residents of both roads have started a signature campaign to raise awareness.
Dr Shetty, in-charge of Narayana Netralaya has said he will support the signature campaign and the homes behind Castle Street have agreed as well, since the sewage pours out into their area through the storm water drain.
Wary of waiting for the authorities to take action, the residents of Hayes Road have decided to help themselves.⊕
I currently reside in Pai Layout, hedged by a large open drain the overpowering stench of which manages to pervade each and every street in the locality. Add to this the usual garbage in empty plots, on street corners etc and you have a private and public hell. I talk to people who have been here since the layout’s inception and it is an exercise in resigned cynicism and anger.