The condition of roads in Medarahalli, a residential neighbourhood 5 km from the Jalahalli Metro station, is miserable, say its residents. The roads were dug up to lay a Cauvery water pipeline, but have remained unpaved for two years, leaving them unnavigable after rain.
Nidhin Pramod, a technical consultant who moved to Medarahalli six years ago, informed The Observer: “The roads were paved six years ago. But two years back, the roads were dug up for the Cauvery pipeline project. The government dug up the roads again to connect storm water drains to the main line, and they never bothered to pave it back.”
The cost of one square foot of land in the neighbourhood is Rs 4,500. But none of the properties has a paved road in front of it.
“Medarahalli lies well within the limits of Bengaluru Urban, but feels like a rural town,” added Pramod. “I am embarrassed to bring my friends home because of the condition of the roads.”
The Observer noted a similar condition of roads in neighbouring Abbigere. Both neighbourhoods have witnessed a surge in residential construction, putting further strain on the dismal infrastructure.
Manoj L, an undergraduate student at the nearby RR College of Pharmacy who has lived in the area for over seven years, shared: “The roads are always a mess. It gets muddy whenever it rains, and it is hard to step out of the house. Local politicians fill it up with raw cement, and it washes away when it rains.”
The residents are pessimistic about the possibility of improvement.
T.K. Karthikeya, a resident of Medarahalli, said: “This will continue. We have complained to the BBMP, and they’ve told us to go to the Public Works Department. It has been three years since I have seen a paved road here.”
Kumar, another local resident, explained: “The roads will be repaved once the work is done. It is taking a long time because first they put in the Cauvery pipeline two years ago, then Bescom cables, then BSNL cables, and finally sanitary and drain water pipelines. Another reason is that the local MLA belongs to the JD(S) and doesn’t get much money from the BJP government.”
The Observer tried to contact MLA R. Manjunatha, but he was unavailable for comment.
Asked about the condition of the roads, BBMP Assistant Executive Engineer Rahaman Idrus said: “There are no roads because of the Cauvery pipeline. One hundred and ten villages are being connected. On top of that, sanitary pipelines are also being laid. People need to understand that it takes time to provide facilities in newer areas which lie on the periphery of Bengaluru. These villages were only recently added to the city’s limits.”
In 2008, 110 villages in the periphery of the city were added to the limits of Greater Bengaluru. The areas relied on water tankers until the BWSSB promised to supply piped water by 2023 through its Cauvery Stage 5 project. However, a report in Citizen Matters Bengaluru says most of the work is still in its early stages and is unlikely to be completed in the next two years.
S. Varaprasada Reddy, a structural engineer, cited the lack of systemic accountability for the problems. “The BBMP has a good engineering department, but nothing will happen because they have high blood pressure as all they care about is eating and smoking. We have the technology to get things done, but we are suffering due to complacency in the bureaucratic system.”
As Bengaluru has sprawled in the past two decades, the Cauvery Stage 5 project aims to bring about 775 million litres per day (MLD) of water from the Cauvery to Bengaluru city. The 110 peripheral villages alone are expected to consume over 800 MLD of water by 2049, according to the final project report issued by BWSSB in 2017.