A well-known architect and town planner recently commented on a WhatsApp group that the whole of Bengaluru had become one construction site – with Koramangala being the epicentre – resulting in the city’s livability index being at its lowest ever.
If you live in Koramangala, it is hard to not notice all the development projects that are going on.
You have the Ejipura – Kendriya Sadan flyover, the Maharaja Bridge, BWSSB’s 6ft-diameter sewage pipeline project, BBMP’s flood mitigation project, white-topping of roads all over (of course, to be dug up just days later to lay utility lines).
Five major projects are ongoing in Koramangala now, including new sewerage and drainage lines, white-topping of roads, and a flyover (click on the markers on the map to see details)
You name it, it is all there – ‘development’, that is supposed to be the name of the game! The very sight of an earth-mover anywhere in the vicinity now sends shivers down the spine of the resident here.
The five ongoing projects
1) Ejipura-Kendriya Sadan flyover
This 2.4 km-long flyover has 77 pillars, of which many have been built already. But some intermediate pillars are just at the foundation stage, making residents anxious as to whether the flyover would be completed even by the extended deadline of April 2020. There have also been reports of property owners along the stretch refusing TDR as compensation for land being acquired, adding to fears of further delay.
Also, no one is clear as to how land requirement would be managed around the landings at both ends of the flyover, given the non-transparent ways of the BBMP. Around the southern end of the flyover is a temple and a mosque, and the northern end butts into army property.
Starting this massive project in a hurry, just before the 2018 state elections, without wider stakeholder consultations, is in itself questionable. This has meant Koramangala can never consider Metro connectivity, linking Indiranagar and Silkboard. That would have been a far better solution to the traffic problems in Koramangala, and to the connectivity problems citizens face in this IT-BT corridor in general.
2) Maharaja bridge
There are all kinds of vague explanations for demolishing Maharaja bridge that connected ST Bed Layout to the Koramangala 80 ft road (Srinivagilu Main Road). The most plausible explanation is that the bridge was badly damaged when heavy earth-moving equipment was maneuvered over it in the process of clearing the muck in the rajakaluve (major storm water drain) below the bridge.
Now, obviously, the BBMP couldn’t have contracted out this muck-clearing job. So, who did it, and where is the accountability? Why weren’t local citizens informed of the decision to demolish the bridge, so that they could plan accordingly rather than being caught unawares?
Even as the Maharaja bridge lay broken, why was prolonged repair works of the remaining two accesses to ST Bed Layout taken up simultaneously? These repair works – along the Srinivagilu village road, and Nilgiri’s junction – had physically cut off S T Bed layout from the rest of the city.
3) NGV – Belur Nagasandra 6ft-diameter sewage line
When Maharaja bridge was about to be reconstructed, the BWSSB suddenly decided to lay sewage pipelines here. The Board had the strange plan to bury huge six-feet diameter sewage pipes under the bed of the rajakaluve, which in turn lies beneath Maharaja bridge!
However, BWSSB had made this decision without the express permission of the BBMP. This eventually led to a tussle between the two, delaying the bridge reconstruction. Now, the pipe-laying has been postponed, but there’s no clarity on how the project would be taken forward. Meanwhile, the rebuilt Maharaja bridge was inaugurated just last week, a whole five months after it was demolished!
The area around Nilgiri’s junction/Wipro Park in Koramangala 4th block gets flooded during rains, probably because of blockages in the drain network. Authorities’ solution to this is to divert excess water from here by building an entirely new drainage line.
The plan is to build a ‘stormwater wet-well’ in Wipro Park that would capture excess water, and then route it through a ‘siphon arrangement’ under the Seva-in-Action bridge. From here, the water would go to a massive box drain, located right next to Prestige Pinewood apartment. And then, the water would join Bellandur lake eventually. The box drain has been built already, and digging for the rest of the project may start anytime.
Leave alone the many experienced engineers among residents, even senior officials in BBMP’s SWD (stormwater drain) department seem unconvinced about the efficacy of this complex project. It appears they had been pushed to take it up, for reasons that can only be guessed. Now the fear is that, rather than discharging flood waters into Bellandur lake, the drain could very well cause Bellandur waters to flood back into S T Bed layout and Koramangala 4th block.
The talk earlier was that Koramangala too would get TenderSURE roads, which the residents were generally happy to welcome. But suddenly it all turned to ‘white-topping’, and not too coincidentally, just before the elections.
It is doubtful if provisions have been made to accommodate all utility lines – existing as well as for future needs – and access to these for repairs. If not, there would be massive digging through layers of concrete later, making for even bigger contracts.
As per a news report in Bangalore Mirror, these are the list of roads for white topping. One road in Koramangala has been white-topped already. Though I requested details of these projects at three ward committee meetings, this was not provided.
Adding to the mess created by these projects, are even more works:
- Bescom’s underground cable laying
Bescom has announced plans to lay underground cables in Koramangala, supposedly to prevent power outages caused by falling trees. But this will almost certainly lead to digging up of the newly white-topped roads.
- Madiwala market
Decades back, the Madiwala market along Hosur Road was razed, with a promise to the shopkeepers that they would be rehabilitated in a new complex here. But when the new complex was built, these shopkeepers weren’t accommodated. Eventually, they occupied the Sarjapur road stretch between Madiwala and Krupanidhi College, which led to a new set of problems.
- Madiwala underpass
Bengaluru’s underpasses are notorious for waterlogging. This one, in addition, has serious problems in construction quality, resulting in frequent traffic hold-ups on Hosur Road, an arterial highway.
- Re-laying of sewage lines
Somewhere along, somebody decided that old sewerage lines needed to be replaced, and all of Koramangala got dug up. It remained like that for years, until contractors extracted their pound of flesh from each resident to have their individual lines linked to the new sewerage lines. Nobody is aware of any study/survey on the need to have undertaken this most disruptive exercise.
- Telecom cabling strung over trees
A few years ago, the telecom company ACT started offering high-speed internet connectivity to Koramangala residents at attractive rates. As residents started subscribing to it, ugly cabling began appearing all over Koramangala – on trees, lamp poles, buildings, in fact on anything along roadsides. Apparently, the company had been given blanket permission to lay their cables in any manner.
As citizens are beginning to complain about them, a cat-and-mouse game is on between BBMP and these contractors – one cuts the cables, and the other restores these the next day, while subscribers suffer from interrupted connectivity.
These works are of course, apart from the massive private development coming up in the adjoining Nirguna Mandir Layout. This development, in the name of Shantinagar Housing Society, is controlled by a neta, and has been much in the news. There are also many high-rises – almost all violating fire-safety rules – in adjoining revenue layouts, and some even in ST Bed Layout.
All in all, there has been a lot of work going on – essentially, Koramangala has become a contractors’ haven, but a resident’s nightmare.