When the clocks hit 10 on the Saturday, October 26, 2013, residents of Thubarahalli near Whitefield in Bengaluru left their chores and stepped out in the hot sun. No slogans, no banners or hoardings. It was a sheer, peaceful Satyagraha – the Gandhian way of protesting, to draw the attention of the government towards the much-needed, but never sanctioned road at Thubarahalli.
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The buildings along the road wore the same mud which the road is made up of. Tough the recent rains have washed away the dirt to some extent, it won’t be long before it returns to the previous state. The approach road that connects 12 apartments in this stretch to the Varthur Main road is a mud road, supposedly never sanctioned by anyone, hence asphalting of the road not being taken up by anyone.
Holding hands of each other, the residents of 12 apartments on the Vibgyor school stretch formed a human chain on both sides of the road, not disturbing the movement of the vehicles. Principals of Vibgyor School and Narayana Techno schools, along with the parents of the school children, joined the Satyagraha.
BBMP engineer promises action
BBMP Assistant Executive Engineer of Hoody sub-division, Dayananda, visited the ground zero. His hands trembled while holding the mike, for some unknown reason, before addressing the residents in front of cameras, mikes and the media coverage.
He comforted himself, stood firmly on the chair. Looking around at residents, he assured the protesters that a 9-metre road along with side drains and street lights will be constructed before December end. He showed the plans for the road and said, “Technical Vigilance team (TVCC) has already inspected the area and 950 metres of the stretch have been recognized, to construct a road of 9 metres width. Commissioner has verbally approved the project for Rs.150 lakhs and the work has been assigned to Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Limited.”
Dayananda requested the residents to maintain peace and not to be sceptical about the work. “What happened in the past has passed, let us not look back,” he said. He acknowledged that even last year before the election the same project was proposed and funds were also pumped in but, “the new government froze it. Now, a separate file has been moved, and the work will be taken up.”
Dayananda explained that the drainage pipes and electricity wires will be installed first, followed by the road levelling work.
Presently, the only entrance to these apartments that connects to the main road is completely blocked by underground drain work. Dayananda swore that the work was initiated on his insistence only, and assured that similarly this work too would be completed.
Residents were relieved by the good news and applauded. The assurance was given in writing in a letter written to RaghuKumar P, a resident of Hinduja Park apartment. Corporator N S Sridhar Reddy also vouched for the same on the phone.
Many memorandums and letters had already been written to BBMP, BDA, MLA and the Corporator. Last year, Corporator N R Sridhar Reddy presented a work order to the Federation of Thubarahalli Apartment Owners Associations (FTAOA) but nothing churned out of it.
‘School bus trapped in a pothole’
Residents drew attention of Dayananda to the mishaps that often take place on the bumpy, muddy road. “Just yesterday,” said one of the residents, “one of the school bus carrying 45 students, got stuck in a pothole. The bus tilted to an angle of 45 degrees; all it needed was one push to turn the bus upside down.”
Vandana Surana, a parent of two children studying at VIBGYOR School, was concerned with the long term health problems that the bumpy rides bring. She complained that her son became nauseated because of the garbage dumped on a private property on the way to school.
Road issue will be dealt soon by the authorities, but the residents have to approach the concerned Solid Waste Management cell for the garbage issue, said Dayanand.
All for freedom from bad road
Visits from the officials to this area are very common. What was different about this was the massive support that FTAOA received from their residents. As a resident of Rajani Ashish, Sitharam Reddy puts it, “The huge participation from people showed that people want freedom from bad road.” If the assurances fail, it will only lead to a bigger movement, says Reddy.
The elections are approaching fast, the power of rejecting all lies in the hands of people. If the wok doesn’t get completed, Shekhar Miskin, resident of Samhitha Rainbow, plans to use the ‘Right to reject all.’
Acquiring private land to be a hurdle?
Residents had found out through RTI that the muddy stretch of the land is not a public land, but private properties out of which some are under litigation. They feared that this may create hurdles for the road but Dayananda assured that the road will be constructed as he has got the necessary approval.
But the private landowners seem clueless about these developments. “BBMP has not approached me to acquire my land yet. If they want to build the road, they need to acquire it legally. I wonder why they are giving false assurances to the people,” said Chandra Reddy, owner of a private land on the stretch.