Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ward 174 - Let’s Hope

This BBMP election Ward 174 recorded less than 43% voting, leaving many of us who have been involved in the elections directly or indirectly not just surprised but annoyed too.

The story of low voting percentage was common across all BBMP Wards with very few exceptions; looks like relentless awareness campaigns about importance of voting had no impact on urban voters. It may be cynicism or simply not giving a damn about a Democratic process, whatever it may be by not voting and by not participating, voters are weakening the very foundation of our Democracy.

Anyways, as counting closed on 25th Aug, it was clear that voters (who ever voted) of Ward 174 had given BJP yet another chance. For several years with Corporator, MLA, MP all from BJP, both BBMP and State Govt Governed (rather misgoverned) by BJP, nothing good happened for Ward 174 rather only got worst.

There is no doubt that INC lost Ward 174 purely due to its internal fight and a last minute patch-up of the warring factions did not help them, BJP just got away without being held accountable for its misrule or its bad governance both in Ward 174 and in BBMP.

But the mandate is out, so let’s look at the enormity of the mess that newly elected Corporator of Ward 174 has on his hands.

With over 4238 potholes of various shapes/sizes/depth on 141 kms of road length, the basic road infrastructure is crumbling and needs major surgery. Except for repeated asphalting of roads in the IAS Officers locality and 27th main, roads across Ward 174 have not been asphalted for over 5-10 years.

Roads have been the largest source of corruption with multiple billing of the same stretch of asphalted road and illegal digging of roads to lay Optic Fiber  Cables (OFCs), also leading to huge revenue loss.

Traffic & Parking 
Rampant, unchecked and even illegal commercialization has lead to a huge increase in the Traffic. All the key commercial roads that connect to different parts of Ward 174 have turned into bottle necks. Pedestrian are suffering due to random parking and pavement parking, leaving no space for their movement.

Basic audit will reveal that more than 50% of the 4737 streetlights are non-functional, thereby leading to serious safety issues for commuters, women and children. Deadly potholes and lack of streetlight is an open invitation to fatal accidents especially for people using two-wheeler.

Garbage & SWD 
One can pass on the Garbage issue as a common problem across the City & Country, but so far there has been no effort what so ever to create awareness or to implement segregation at source. When large part of Ward 174 is a well planned BDA layout its criminal indeed if even segregated Garbage is collected and dumped into the same pile.

Storm Water Drains (SWD) both the shoulder inlets and the main Raja Kaluves are to the brim with garbage and silt, with choking and clogging drains a few minutes of rains can flood houses in low lying areas.

Education & Health 
A look at Anganwadi will tell you the plight of the children for the lesser privileged section of the society. Lack of even basic facilities will only suggest that previous Corporator gave no attention to the poorer section and left them to fend for themselves.

The Govt Schools are no better, with minimum facilities, with not much emphasis on quality and the high profile schools not willing to implement RTE, parents who can’t afford private schools have very little choice but to send their children to Govt Schools.

Garbage, chocked SWDs, Pig menace, stink from KCDC, unkempt Public spaces, using of vacant sites as Public toilets all are leading to serious health issues cutting across all sections of the society.

Lakes & Parks 
Both Agara Lake & Iblur Lake comes under Ward 174, but until the citizens started a movement to save Agara Lake 3 years ago all elected representatives had completely ignored the Lake. And once the elected representatives got involved they made a big mess, pushing STP which is not even needed and which is a BIG waste of tax payer money, well status of Iblur Lake is less said the better.

Even though Ward 174 is blessed with 39 Parks, other than the one time tap cutting its not been a priority for the previous Corporator and BBMP. Parks lack basic facilities and cleaning, with some efforts of the RWAs some parks are still in usable condition.

Play Grounds 
Ward 174 has been known for its Citizen/RWAs activism, just like snatching prey from a Tiger’s mouth few eminent Citizens went to the court to save the Play Ground from becoming Judges Colony. But now like always elected representatives are pushing to set-up a ‘concrete’ stadium in place of an open Play Ground. Regularly the Play Ground is rented out (rather used) to some religious function, and they mostly leave back a mess.  

With a population of 65000 fewer Play Grounds only mean lesser Public space and lesser opportunities for creating a sporting atmosphere.  

To conclude, Encroachments, Illegal construction are on the rise; a complete control of this menace and implementation of law is the need of the hour. 

These are just some of the key issues out of many, previous Corporator did not even bother about Ward meetings or about setting-up a strong, effective and functioning Ward Committee. There was not even a priority list or a Ward agenda, other than the BIG talk of ‘Model Ward’ with zero impact on ground. Previous Corporator's interactions were limited to her party workers and the select few in the Ward, there by ignore all the requirements in the Ward.

Is there Hope? Only time will tell, will the newly elected Corporator be another puppet in the hands of the MLA or will he show some spine and address the issues that Ward 174 and its Citizens are facing?

Let’s Hope, as if we have a choice :)

- Kavitha Reddy

Note: I am a Member of the Indian National Congress, but I am sure the issues I have put out are irrespective of my political inclination and based on facts and current situation.