Residents and citizen groups of Mahadevapura assembly constituency will stage a protest on Friday 9.30 am, at the Marathahalli Bridge bus stop. The #MahdevapuraDemands protest is called against elected representatives of the constituency for failing to deliver on the promises they had made on restoring civic amenities and making the area liveable. Resignation of elected representatives is one of the main demands of the protestors.
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The representatives here are Mahadevapura MLA Aravind Limbavali, Bengaluru Central MP P C Mohan, BBMP corporators A C Hari Prasad (Hoodi), B N Nithish Purushotham (Garudachar Palya), S Muniswamy (Kadugodi), S Uday Kumar (Hagadur), Shwetha Vijaykumar (Doddanekkundi), Ramesh (Marthahalli), Pushpa Manjunath (Varthur) and Asha Suresh (Bellandur).
Residents of Varthur, Balagere, Gunjur, Gunjurpalya and surrounding areas will also form a human chain near Varthur High School at 8.30 am, before joining the protest at Marathahalli.
In a series of tweets this week, the citizen group Whitefield Rising (@WFRising) listed the following reasons for the protest, and asked residents to join.
- Mahadevapura has the “worst roads in the city” and most of these roads get gridlocked daily
- The zone has “no access to clean drinking water or sewage disposal”
- Pathetic garbage clearance system
- Apathetic treatment and poor traffic management by the traffic police
- “Mahadevapura has the most polluted air in the city”
- Representatives, including MPs, MLAs and corporators hinder progress in the area by shifting blame and fighting among themselves.
Protestors are also demanding the establishment of Mahadevapura Municipal Corporation, since the constituency’s area and population density is quite high. Instead of the current eight wards, the constituency should ideally have 25-30 wards for genuine local representation, they say.
A separate division of BTP (Bengaluru Traffic Police) at Mahadevapura, an empowered Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) prioritising suburban rail, and immediate rejuvenation of Bellandur and Varthur lakes, are some of their other demands.
Whitefield Rising, Bellandur Forum, Belathur Rising, ForceGW, Nallurahalli Rising, Bangalore Apartments’ Federation are among the citizen groups in the constituency that are supporting the protest. Schools like Greenwood High International, Inventure Academy and Delhi Public School have also pledged their support to the protest.
So, what really triggered residents here to organise a major protest?
Residents allege that basic facilities like roads, water and clean air have become a distant dream for them though Mahadevapura is the constituency that pays BBMP the highest taxes.
Before the 2018 assembly election, Mahadevpura residents had asked candidates to sign a document – the Mahadevpura MLA Candidate Manifesto 2018. In this manifesto, residents had shared the attributes they were looking for in their candidate, and their expectations from the candidate as soon as he/she came to power.
BJP candidate Aravind Limbavali, who later became the MLA, had also signed the manifesto; residents allege that he has not acted on any of the items in it.
By signing the manifesto, Limbavali had promised the following:
- Influence the appointment of competent, honest, strong, ethical officers for the posts of Joint Commissioner, Chief Engineer, SE – SWM, Deputy Health Officer and Tahsildar for Mahadevapura, so that they can “execute” and “deliver” successfully.
- Public land must be ready with functioning DWCC (Dry Waste Collection Centre)
- Ward committees must be operational in all eight wards, with monthly meetings and publishing of monthly minutes
- Ensure welfare funds are spent 100 percent
- Publish data online on ward vs zone level budget allocations regularly, with detailed data on funds spent vs work done
- Hundred percent transparency for citizens
However, nothing much has changed, residents say.
Residents of Mahadevpura have been complaining about the absence of DWCC in most wards of the constituency. “The CSR funds to set up a local DWCC, which would reduce stress on the waste system, had to be foregone due to non-allocation of public land,” says the demand letter by Whitefield Rising.
Residents also complain about the irregular schedule of waste collection autos. The staff in these autos also mix up waste, which the residents had already segregated at source. “BBMP allocates Rs 56,000 per small vehicle per month for garbage pickup and we have enough of these vehicles, but they do not service the allocated areas,” the demand letter says.
The yet-to-be-built underpass
Whitefield Rising has submitted a written complaint to the state Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar on the delay in acquiring land for an underpass at Kundanahalli gate. The group demanded that Rs 42.5 crore be released immediately for acquiring land for footpaths and roads around the underpass. This fund had already been approved under the Nava Nagarathona Scheme, but was not released. Approval is needed for acquiring 4385 sq mt of land too, the complaint says.
Residents allege that the design of the underpass was approved with many flaws, for example, with road width of just 3.5 m. The original plan had a 7.5 m-wide road on both sides of the underpass, and a 2.5 m-wide footpath.
Whitefield Rising says that work on the underpass has not started despite citizens’ representations to every department of the BBMP and state government. Their letter also says that Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had promised Rs 45 cr for land acquisition for the underpass, during his visit to the constituency.
No redemption for roads
The Bellandur Development Forum, like many other citizen groups in the constituency, has been demanding better road infrastructure for more than a year, but to no avail. The forum has filed several complaints with the BBMP and the state government, but roads in the area have remained in a dismal condition.
“Over the past five years, we have paid around Rs 700 crore as residential property tax alone. That is, Rs 130 crore on average, annually,” says Vishnu Prasad, a member of the forum.
Residents have complained that over 35 kms of road improvement work, that was part of the 2015 Master Plan, has not yet started here. This includes Sarjapur road, improvement of Doddakannelli road, widening of Kasavanahalli, Haralur and Bellandur roads, and many others.
Last year, over 10,000 residents hit the streets with a silent protest, demanding better road infrastructure in the constituency, but authorities’ commitments remain on paper without any action. “We have already approached every official in BBMP and PWD, but the situation remains the same,” Prasad says.
The lack of mass transit and proper BMTC bus connectivity in the area has forced the residents to use their private vehicles, which has increased congestion and the Air Quality Index beyond acceptable levels.
In a letter submitted on September 23rd to Dr Ashwath Narayan, the Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, Bellandur Development Forum demanded a Metro station at Sarjapur Road. The Metro line can be extended by about 6.5 kms from the proposed Iblur Carmelaram Metro station for this, they said.
A Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMTA) and suburban trains are also part of the demands made to the deputy chief minister. The demand letter of Whitefield Rising says, “With slight improvement to the existing rail infrastructure, the city can have incredible rail connectivity, and it would take just 40-45 minutes to go to Majestic from Whitefield.”
However, several meetings with senior officials and the Managing Director of BMRCL, BBMP Commissioner, and Additional Chief Secretary of the Urban Development Department, have proved futile.
Green Mahadevapura initiative
In May this year, the Bellandur Development Forum had submitted a letter to MLA Aravind Limbavali and MP P C Mohan, requesting them to initiate green measures in the constituency with the help of RWAs (Resident Welfare Associations). The letter requested Limbavali and Mohan to provide “structure, policy and execution, both in the interim and long run”, for initiatives such as:
- Identification of about 3500-4000 sq ft of land per each 2 sq km area in urban centres, for building Miyawaki plantations. These will act as carbon sinks and hugely improve Bengaluru’s air quality, the letter said.
- Review and present policy initiatives to clear eucalyptus trees across key urban municipalities since they adversely affect water conservation.
- Build minimum of 5000 recharge wells across Mahadevapura, that can help shallow aquifer recharge
A copy of the letter was also sent to Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, the Prime Minister’s Office, BWSSB Chairman Tushar Girinath, and the then-BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad.
According to lake volunteer Shilpi Sahu, sewage flow into lakes – notably into Kaikondrahalli and Kasavanahalli lakes and Sowl Kere – is a major issue.
“The BBMP Lakes department is responsible for any issue within the lake body, but most problems are created outside due to ‘urban development’. On one hand, Sowl Kere went nearly dry in summer, and on the other, raw sewage was flowing into it abundantly. We had to keep diverting raw sewage. If we didn’t, there would have been fish deaths and contamination of surrounding wells,” Shilpi says.
“Why do we not have underground drainage in our area yet? What about Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs)? Who is monitoring the STP discharge from apartments and commercial buildings?” she asks, adding that the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has failed to implement its own guidelines related to sewage discharge.
The #MahadevpuraDemands protest might be the biggest voice for change in the city after the new government has taken charge. Fulfilling the protestors’ demands is now in the hands of elected representatives.