patrol beat

Foot Soldiers' Stories

You should be in the core area or on the ex-treme borders of Bangalore.If you chose to live in-between, be prepared to suffer from a lack of civic amenities." This is one suggestion that field associates of Janaagraha --who pounded the streets and knocked oninnumerable doors to conduct the Bangalore Patrol survey -- have for Bangaloreans.

Bangalore Patrol's rankings have the city a buzz. Everybody wants to know where their ward stands in the pecking order. Giving into popular demand,today we are running the ranking for all the 198 wards of Bangalore .Due to constraints of space it isn't possible to give individual scores and rankings on the individual parameters. These details are available on the website

Coming to the nitty-gritty of the survey, wonder who were the foot soldiers behind this mammoth task? A group of 18 field associates and 50 surveyors who conducted the ground level survey measuring everything from the intensity of light from street lights to the water pressure in each of198 wards.A bunch of dedicated people -- including lots of youngsters -- these are people who are truly interested in urban affairs and want to bring about visible change in Bangalore's urban infrastructure. Mainly in the agegroup 22-28 they joined Janaagraha to be apart ofthe survey like Nandan G, a mechanical engineer, Rakesh N, an MA in Economics and Bharath who has a master's degree in finance & accounts.The group used to work from 10 am to 8 pm everyday measuring and confirming the data.

The survey, initially scheduled for six months was extended by two months due to unavailability of data from civic agencies during the BBMP elections.The survey that started on December 27,2009 wound up on August 15,2010.

The surveyors have interesting stories to tell from the field.Of officials who were rude and refused to help and of those who went out oftheir way to help the Janaagraha team and even accompanied them on their field trips.

Hostile officials were par for course.Somesurveyors were even abused by the officials.

"Many BBMP,BWSSB,police officials were not cooperative about giving us the infor-mation,though we had authorization letter from heads of each of these departments,"say the now seasoned surveyors.

A typical response would be:"You want details? We want money." One particular police official threw the permission letter from his senior officer into the air when approached for crime details registered with his police station." I do not consider this letter.You want details and the department would ask you to pay money.Get a demand draft of Rs 85 and then ask for details," being the response of the unresponsive police inspector.Said a surveyor:"Most of these officials are not just rude but they do not even have basic manners of listening. If this is the way they react to us who are into urban research activities,I wonder how would they treat the public?" How, in-deed? But additional commissioner (Traffic) Pravin Sood's letter spelt magic in northernand southern parts ofthe city,as per their experience.

"Give us your map.We don't have one!"

"During my constant interactions with Jayanagar BWSSB officials,I could find out how keenthey were on improving the quality oflife inthe urban scenario. Not just that,they also asked me to share a copy ofthe map that we had prepared about pipelines, storm waterdrains,sewage line networks across each ofthe wards," said Rajesh N,a field associate.

A similar encouraging behaviour was wit-nessed by the surveyors when they visited BBMP officials of HAL ward."The Assistant Executive Engineer of Vibhuthipura, called for a meeting ofthe staffand we could discuss the public amenities in the ward," ex-plained Rajesh. At some places,the officials even accompanied the field associates while surveying the network of the storm waterdrains." For many officials it was their first visit to the drains!" another field associate told TOI.

Some officials who were not knowledgeable about their ward preferred to avoid the Janaagraha team."An official in Malleswaram used to run away whenever he saw me in his office.Finally, I got the details from a work inspector," says Bhanuprakash G V, a field associate.

Survey based on data

According to Ranjana Krishna,the surveyconducted by Janaagraha,is based on the tests conducted on each ofthe areas with regard to each of the parameters.

"This data is not based on anyone's opinion.We will be updating the ratings after one year or so and all the indicators willbe measured once again. Residents Welfare associations were not involved in this survey because the survey is not based on anyone's perception.

Perception cannot be measured whereas the data collected through scientific tests can be retested," says Krishna. For Prema B R,who worked on the compilation of the data created,there are remarkable differences between the government data pro-cured by Janaagraha during the surveyand the data collected by the surveyors dur-ing their ground work.

No logic in delimitation

According to the surveyors,the delimitation ofthe wards is nothing but unscientific.

For instance, Jayanagar ward stretches from Krishna Rao park to NIMHANS! Most of the ward officials themselves are notaware of the length and breadth of the wards.Their observations include the absence of police stations and BBMP offices in some of the wards.