Bangalore’s open drains

Another drain death and yet another drill of blame game

H S BALRAMNew Picture (84)

Why do our authorities run around in circles whenever they face an emergency?Why do they go on the defensive and engage in blame-game?

Why are they quick only in reeling out the reasons for a problem than finding a solution? Why do they fail to act upon umpteen promises made and decisions taken? Why do they refuse to learn from mistakes?

Take the killer drains of Bangalore. Four months ago, six-year-old Abhishek was washed away in an overflowing storm water drain. His body hasn’t been traced yet.

Four days ago a one-and-ahalf-year-old Vijay met the same fate. No trace of his body too. In both the cases, civic staff and fire force men went through a gruelling exercise of scouring the drains full of silt and filth. All in vain. The families of the victims are spending agonizing days.

The war of words that we witnessed after the Abhishek tragedy has surfaced again. Citizens blame the BBMP for not only leaving the drains open but also failing to desilt them. The BBMP in turn accuses the citizens of not taking care of their children during rains. It also charges them with throwing garbage into drains and choking them.

Then it turns to developers and accuses them of encroaching upon drains, narrowing them in the process and preventing free flow of rain water. While the blamegame is on, what does the government do? Just doles out compensation, makes some promises and retreats till another tragedy occurs.

Two senior ministers are in charge of Bangalore city. We have a minister for urban development. An adviser to the CM on urban planning. A proactive commissioner at the helm in BBMP.

A task force called ABide that works closely with the CM and makes recommendations. Many private companies are ever ready to chip in to resolve the city’s woes. RWAs are ready to help the civic staff rectify problems. Where then are the hitches?

Is the BBMP afraid of taking on the encroachers because of their political connections? If so, then the CM must step in, stand by the BBMP and give it a free hand to clear all encroachments at the earliest. The government cannot dilly-dally on this.

Is there difference of opinion on closure of drains? If yes, what are the arguments of those who oppose it? Can’t experts put their heads together and arrive at a consensus? The lives of citizens are at stake.

Sadly, we seem to wake up only when a tragedy occurs. We pledge religiously to work towards averting such tragedies. And then forget about it once the euphoria dies down. Only to wake up with a jolt when another tragedy strikes us. It’s time we stopped blaming one another and joined hands to make Bangalore a better place to live.
PARTING SHOT

Lesson for Late Latifs
Our netas have a lesson to learn from US consul general in Chennai, Andrew T Simkin. A couple of days ago he was in Bangalore to launch a ‘virtual consulate’. But he couldn’t reach the venue as he was caught in the city’s infamous traffic jam. As he was behind schedule, he called the venue and asked his staff to go ahead with the programme, so that ‘nobody should be kept waiting’. The programme began soon after with a consulate official launching the website. When can we see such professionalism in our netas?
balram.singh@timesgroup.com

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