patrol beat

Hell Hath Another Name

Aarthi R - tnn

Can anything be more ironic than this? Kempegowda ward, the very first ward of namma Bengaluru, named after the Yelahanka chieftain who founded the city way back in 1537, ranks among the 20 worst wards of the city.

Bangalore Patrol has found that this newly added ward has extremely poor civic amenities. Ranked 179 out of 198 overall, it has poor rankings for all the parameters of study. It scores particularly badly on the sanitary conditions in the ward and in public amenities. Detailed field surveys by the Bangalore Patrol team revealed that many parts of this ward have no proper sewage lines at all. Unsurprisingly, it comes in at 190th rank on this measure. The availability and quality of drinking water is another issue. Even on environmental front, there's nothing green about Kempegowda ward (near Yelahanka) as it ranks a lowly 185 on this parameter.

While Kemegowda ward is 20th from the bottom in the ranking, Dodda Bidarakallu, near Yeshvanthpur, has the dubious distinction of the being the city's worst ward overall. Bottom scraping scores for mobility and water (rank 198 and 197 respectively) are the main reasons why. A quick glance at the ward report card on the six parameters clearly indicates that it's a tough life out here. That the best rank it has managed is a poor 177 (for sanitation), says it all.

A closer scrutiny of the Bottom 20 reveals that barring Nilasandra (Rank 185), all the other wards on list are from the newly added areas of BBMP. A majority of them are located on the extreme fringes of the fast expanding city. Nilsandra, that falls under the Shantinagar assembly constituency, fares so low mainly on account of the poor condition of its slums which have their footprints across much of this ward.

It's a shame for Bangalore that the area that houses its university has abominable civic facilities. Jnanabharathi ward comes in at a lowly rank of 187. The wild green campus of Bangalore University might have given it a fairly decent rank of 49 on the environment measure but it's among the worst wards, mainly on account of its poor water and sanitation conditions where it ranks 196 and 169. Its ranking on other parameters like public amenities (148) and mobility (159) are nothing to write home about either.

Proximity to the rapidly growing business hub of Whitefield with its towering glass towers hasn't had much impact in improving the conditions at the neighboring Doddanekundi ward (rank 188). This village side of Whitefield still needs loads of development. With a rank as low as 196 for mobility, people here can't even boast of decent roads and footpaths, forget bus stops.

THE SETTING STANDARDS:

The composite factors that let down almost all these 20 wards are poor scores on almost all parameters. Being new wards, added to BBMP from the village areas, majority of the road infrastructure here needs serious re-work. However mobility is an issue even with the better wards in the city because even there the available roads are not enough to take on the increasing traffic.

Water, is a parameter on which Bangalore as whole has done relatively well. But not here. All the bottom 20 wards have scores in the low 2s and 3s. None has scored above 5. : All these wards have strayed away from the minimum promise given to residents of municipal corporations; supply of `piped drinking water.' Even if people here get piped water, the question that begs an answer is its quality and availability. It's a known truth these new areas are yet to get the Cauvery water. But, what stops authorities from making best use of available bore wells? Areas that have bore wells suffer from the fact that there is no proper two-inch pipeline connectivity to bring that water home.

Public amenities are non-existent in these wards. Only three wards have scored above one showing he pathetic condition of public toilets, playgrounds, parks etc. Contamination and poor sanitation is another issue. Almost all these new wards still thrive on the age-old soak pits. Even the basic sewage lines are yet to enter these one-time village zones. This holds true for parts of HAL II and III stage which are almost considered as part of the core city now. On the environment parameter, just two wards score above five.

Top slug

The common thread running through Bangalore's 20 worst wards is that they are all in the periphery of the city; villages that were appended to the city as it grew outwards. Basic civic amenities are missing here forget beautiful parks or great bus connections.

SNIPPETS:

Is it or isn't crime free.

Crime data for these wards throws up interesting factors. Two of the wards score very high ranks in crime. Herohalli is at number 1 and Doddabidarakallu at 3 which should mean that these wards are crime free. But is that really the case. Crime statistics work in weird ways. Large number of crime recorded at a local police station doesn't necessarily mean crime is high in that area. It might simply talk of the efficiency of the local sub-inspector and to the confidence he's generated in the local community which makes people empowered enough to walk up to the doors of the police station to register their complaint. Herohalli tops, not because the ward witnesses no crimes, but because it doesn't have a police station where crimes can be recorded!

SOME BEST AMONG WORST

A small relief is seeing some of the worst wards score decent two-digit rank on some parameters. Begur that ranks 197 overall, surprisingly has scored well on mobility where it ranks 65. So does Varthuru at 97th rank. Jnanabharathi and Devasandra wards that also rank low on most parameters share the 49th rank for environmental conditions. HSR Layout that fares a little better than the rest (rank 180), does so mainly due to its public amenities where it ranks 96 followed by Herohalli at 98.

WHERE THE PEOPLE?

These wards don't just lack in civic amenities. They also lack in people who can fight for their rights. Most don't have decent resident welfare associations (RWAs) to take up cudgels on their behalf. Many areas in Bangalore today multiple RWAs in one area. Worst ranked Dodda Bidarakallu has not one.

CORPORATOR -- SWITCHED OFF?

Will Doddabidarakallu, which occupies the pride of place at the bottom ever improve? Perhaps. It all depends on when its corporator T A Gayithree decides to switch on her mobile phone to at least take calls from her constituents. Her contact number listed on the BBMP website was perennially switched off for the last two-three days when TOI tried to reach her to find some answers to the pathetic condition of her ward.

Voices:

"Yes. I know the ward needs to develop a lot. It's still a village and a big ward. The problems have been explained to the mayor and BBMP commissioner. It's like a double ward. I need a minimum of Rs 10-crore for its overall development. Without funds, I am helpless. The Rs 4-crore I now get will hardly get a patchwork done here.'' --- M Srinivas, Corporator, Begur ward

True, we are now nowhere close to Kempegowda's dreams. There's no sanitary line at all here. But our BJP government has been doing a lot of work. There should be some change next year. We'll surely then top the other wards - Y N Ashwath, Corproator, Kempegowda ward

RWA:

"We are convinced, this Bangalore Patrol report is nearer to truth. We are finding it really difficult to live in some pockets. Our new corporator has also done nothing in the last six months. We have also submitted a memorandum recently.'' -- G S Krishnamurthy, president Federation, HSR layout Resident Welfare Association.