Plan for new 90 km of drains at a cost of ₹900 crore on the cards
After heavy rains caused widespread damage, inundating hundreds of homes and throwing life out of gear, the State Government, on Wednesday, firmed up its plans to widen and improve the carrying capacity of the city’s 842-km drain network.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced that there was a need for nearly 90 km of new drains, including 51.5 km of primary and 38 km secondary drains. This is estimated to cost around ₹900 crore.
“The civic body has been directed to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) and submit it to the government. We will provide the required funds, on condition that it is completed in a time-bound manner,” he said. The civic body has also been asked to take up recruitment of 137 engineers on contract basis.
On November 23, after inspecting rain-affected areas in Yelahanka and Byatarayanapura, Mr. Bommai announced a ‘master plan’ for storm-water drains, details of which were firmed up at a high-level meeting with senior officials at the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) head office on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the Chief Minister said many rajakaluves (primary/ big storm-water drains) needed repairs and reinforced cement concrete structures. The drains in the 110 villages in the outer zones were mud structures, which need to be reconstructed and widened. “We need concerted efforts to clear these bottlenecks,” he said.
The BBMP had identified 94 critical points in different zones. Work will be taken up at these points to minimise flooding and officials had been directed to complete the same within 2 months’ time, he added.
The civic body has been directed to draft a master plan to ensure smooth flow of water from a series of lakes to the rivers through the four valleys in the city – Vrushabhavathi, Hebbal, Koramangala and Challaghatta. “There may have been a master plan earlier. However, layouts have now come up across the city. The new master plan should take into account the present conditions on the ground,” he said.
With regard to strengthening of drains, he said that in 2019-20, the State Government had accorded permission to the BBMP to take up work on 75 km and sanctioned ₹1,060 crore. “Of this, work on 40 km has been completed and that on 30 km will be completed by January end,” he said.
Mr. Bommai said that the civic body had also been instructed to take up repair of tertiary drains, apart from desilting all drains. “We will monitor the progress of all these works that are deemed as permanent solutions to the flooding issue. The Government has taken this issue very seriously,” he said.
With a lot of work pending on laying the new underground drainage lines in the 110 villages, the Chief Minister said he has directed the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board to complete the work and ensure that there is no let off.
Ministers C.N. Ashwathnarayan, S.T. Somashekhar, K. Gopalaiah, Munirathna, V. Somanna, B.A. Basavaraju, administrator and additional chief secretary Rakesh Singh, civic chief Gaurav Gupta and senior officials were present at the meeting.
When asked about Revenue Minister R. Ashok’s absence, the Chief Minister said that he was touring rain-affected districts, including Hassan and Kodagu. “He has been in touch with me. He could not make it to the meeting, as his schedule had already been fixed,” he said.
Potholes to be filled
Given the poor condition of roads, civic officials have once again been directed to take up pothole filling work immediately after the rains let up. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said priority will be given to filling potholes that are around one foot deep. Officials have also been asked to identify worn out stretches that need to be relaid.
Encroachments to be cleared
The civic officials have also been directed to clear the 714 encroachments identified along the drain network. The CM added that of the 2,626 encroachments that had been identified initially, the BBMP had cleared 1,480. “Officials have been directed to ensure that those belonging to lower socio-economic groups are given sufficient time to shift. However, no mercy is to be shown to big developers and builders who have encroached drains,” he stated.