The Kodigehalli Railway underpass in Bengaluru, which was meant to ease traffic, has now become a nuisance for commuters. The civic body, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has managed to construct an underpass without constructing a storm water drain for rainwater to flow into.
The underpass, which was thrown open the public in April, has flooded every time it has rained in the city, posing a risk to commuters. The downpour on Tuesday evening caused heavy waterlogging, which led to traffic jam and also posed a risk to commuters plying along the path.
The underpass connects Kodigehalli and Thindlu as well as Vidyaranyapura and Jalahalli. The underpass was meant to cut down travel by 3 km for commuters moving from Kogehalli to Jalahalli.
The 700-meter-long underpass was a joint venture between the BBMP and South-Western Railways. Sanctioned in 2013, it was estimated to be completed in 2015. After a delay of 5 years, the underpass came into existence only in April 2019 at a cost of Rs 19 crore.
On Wednesday, the BBMP brought in water suction pumps to drain out the rainwater, after the heavy downpour on Tuesday night. This process of clearing the water took almost 4 to 5 hours resulting in a traffic jam.
Speaking to TNM, BBMP Joint Commissioner for Yelahanka Zone, Dr Ashok said that two more pits need to be dug to make provisions for storm water drains. “This part of the work has to carried out by the railways and it is pending. But there was a meeting conducted and for now water is being pumped out. Within a month everything will be sorted,” he said.
When asked as to why the public was allowed to use the underpass even though the construction wasn’t completed, Ashok said that the underpass was opened for commute as it would avoid traffic jams.
“I cross the road five to six times every day, there is no functioning drainage system yet. Once it rains, the road is entirely flooded and sewage too mixes with the flood water. It gets jammed during rains. So to avoid that, we need to take a longer route that takes half an hour more. So far it has happened 7-8 times,” said Bhanuprakash, a college student, who uses the underpass regularly.
Residents also complained of traffic bottlenecks during peak hours and lamented about how the lack of storm water drains has aggravated the issue.
“The traffic is horrible during the peak hours and they haven’t even constructed a service road to ease the traffic. Clearly, they have done this only for elections,” said Murali Gopal, a resident of Kodigehalli.
Corroborating Murali’s claims, Salman Raju, a regular two-wheeler commuter says that it is risky for vehicles to ply along the underpass as it is constantly waterlogged.
“Even if it pours a little, the water level is so much that it is impossible to travel especially for two wheelers. It is risky because what if there is some emergency, we are compelled to take the longer route” Salman Raju added.
Besides, residents living near the underpass say that due to the construction work, the sewerage system has been destroyed. Sinha, who lives near the underpass says that the sewage pipes have been damaged. TNM visited Kodigehalli to find that the sewage is dripping into the underpass through the holes in the walls of the underpass. This has led to stench spreading along the path.
“For any underpass, the construction of a drainage system is a basic necessity. The authorities haven’t provided the most basic provision. It is not just about the traffic, but who knows how deep the water is, what if someone gets stuck? It could lead to major accidents. Moreover, it has officially not been opened, so they must close it till they finish the drainage construction completely. There is absolutely no coordination between the systems, clearly they just produced a structure before the elections to show the public that they are working” he added.