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Open letter to BTM layout MLA from BAF-BTM cluster

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Honorable Sri Ramalinga Reddy,
MLA, BTM layout, 
Respected Sir
Sub: poor livability conditions in S T Bed layout, and even in the whole of Koramangala
Bangalore Apartments Federation (BAF -, comprising of over 400 apartment complexes across the city, is already known to you, Sir, with your having facilitated the meeting of our Governing Council members with the erstwhile City Development Minister, Mr K J George, to sort out the "retrospective STP" issue. We remain grateful to you on that account, forever.
This approach to you now is from BAF's BTM layout cluster members to sort out the many issues we are facing in our area (as brought out below), in your capacity as the MLA of the constituency.   
Sir, the following are the excerpts from a post made by a resident of "Mantri Classic" on a WhatsApp group, which quite brings out the plight of the residents of S T bed layout:
"I walk to my office every day -  it's a 25 minute walk".
This has become the routine at least for many of the younger residents, because of the state of our being physically cut off from the rest of the world, with the "Maharaja" bridge broken, and the remaining three accesses being too narrow and crowded (and, of these, the "Sinivagilu" village road too has now been closed for major repairs from over 10 days). Even if we somehow manage to extricate ourselves from S T Bed layout, there is the fly-over construction going on, from the tardy 'progress' of which, it looks like it's going to take a long time to complete. 
All in all, in a car, it takes some 45 to 75 minutes to just get out of Koramangala, during peak hours, and likewise to get back home.
Yes, we do appreciate that, with the increased traffic congestion all across the city, the future may require us all to leave our cars/ mo-bikes behind at home and walk - if not the whole distance, but may be to the nearest bus stop, at least on the work-day commute. That would be the ideal situation. But, there too, the problems are too many, as noted below (excerpted from the same post, cited earlier):  
When you start walking, then you experience the next nightmare of bad civic sense: garbage. There are stretches where garbage is just dumped. In our cars, we don't realize the scale and size of this mess. Plus there are loose electrical wires jutting from poles which seem seriously spooky in the rain....Walking is a separate nightmare in itself”.
This of course is apart from the extremely poor public transport connectivity.
All the same, Sir, you'll appreciate that even the younger citizens (and certainly the older ones, and the women and children too) can't be asked to give up on the car/ mo-bike totally, and the state needs to facilitate their movements too to the best possible extent. This is where we are at a loss to understand the how and why of so many works going on simultaneously in S T Bed layout, and Koramangala, in general, making just the thought of leaving home a nightmare (not that it is any better at home, with the frequent power outages).
Firstly, the Maharaja bridge: There are all kinds of vague explanations for demolishing it. The most plausible explanation can be that it got badly damaged while manuevering the heavy earth-moving equipment over it, in the process of clearing the muck thrown being into the SWD, repeatedly. Now, obviously, the BBMP couldn't have authorised these muck clearing jobs - so, who did it, and where is the accountability? And, why weren't the local citizens informed of the decision to demolish the bridge, so that they could make their plans accordingly, rather than being caught totally unawares? And, when the bridge was to be re-constructed, how come the BWSSB decided on placing the 6 ft dia pipes for their sewage line, below the SWD, without the express permission of the BBMP, resulting eventually to a tussle between them, and delaying the completion of the bridge? Anyway, now with the pipe-laying postponed/ re-routed, why are the six pipes still lying around at the site, causing additional hindrance to the flow of traffic? Also, when is the job expected to be completed?
4th block flood mitigation plan: In September last year, there was an announcement of the commencement of work on this plan, with a pooja, presided over by you, Sir. The announcement talked vaguely about laying of pipelines along the 80 ft road (Google terms it "Srinivagilu main road"), from somewhere between Sony-World junction and Maharaja junction. 
With the area already badly congested, there was anxiety among residents to understand what the whole proposal was, as also how it was going to affect their overall mobility in the area. So, a request was made to the EE, BBMP, if he could make a presentation to 4th block (which includes S T Bed layout) residents on the proposal, or at least to provide the relevant drawings. But, he appeared busy forever, and it never happened. Subsequently, based on a talk the undersigned had with Mr Govardhan Reddy, the Block Congress convener, the blog, accessible here , was published. The same was circulated widely amongst the residents hoping for a feedback on whether the assumptions made were correct.
Subsequently, these were personally brought up by the undersigned in three Ward (no 148) Committee meetings too, including in writing. With no response from the Corporator, or any of the Ward Committee members, the contents were mailed out to them, as also to all of the connected BBMP South officials (to id's available on the BBMP web-site), with copies to the Mayor and the Commissioner (check here ). While cursory acknowledgements were received from both the Mayor and the Commissioner, there was no response whatsoever from any of the officials.
With no information available, but with all kinds of works starting all over, along-with two other residents of S T Bed layout, the undersigned then went over to meet the senior most BBMP officials, concerned. It was then that it became known that the 6ft dia pipes were not for the flood-mitigation project, but for a BWSSB project, for linking a sewage wet-well in NGV to the STP complex at Belur Nagasandra (adjacent to Bellandur lake flood-plains, east of the HAL air-strip). What was even more shocking was that the pipes were to be laid below the SWD bed, starting at "Seva-in-Action" junction, going all the way under the Maharaja bridge (now being re-constructed), the "Naveen Terracres" bridge on the IRR, and some more bridges thereon, ending finally at the NGV wet-well.
Simultaneously, there was the "flood-mitigation" project on too, with a box drain, connecting a "storm-water wet-well" (where the water from the Maharaja junction side, as well as perhaps Raheja Residency side, is expected to get collected) to the Bellandur lake, via a 'syphon' arrangement, passing below the "Seva-in-Action" bridge. The work on this (all along the periphery of the "Prestige Pinewood" project, and beyond - see picture below) too being on-going, any day, the digging could commence near "Seva-in-Action".  
For engineers (though not from the Civil stream), that our team consisted of, it didn't seem to make any logic to any of the members. Even the BBMP officials seemed unconvinced about the efficacy of the whole project, and it appeared they had been pushed into taking it up. Now the fear is that, rather than discharging flood waters into Bellandur lake, it could even lead to Bellandur waters flooding back into S T Bed layout, and Koramangala 4th block. 
Apparently, there was some "Consultant" involved (who, it is said, later backed out), and some public hearing involving sections of 4th block RWA happened too. The larger question arising here is, is all of that good enough, particularly when it pertains to projects affecting far larger sections of the residents. Is it enough for the rest of the affected residents to be invited just for the 'pooja' (with some sketchy information on the project) at the commencement of the work? This has unfortunately become the practice all through - whether in the case of the 'Egipura-Kendriya Sadan' fly-over project, re-laying of sewage lines, TenderSure, white-topping, Bescom's under-ground cable-laying, telecom cabling strung over trees, Maestrikere rejuvenation, et al. 
Apparently, the lessons, from having to stop the work (already commenced) on an earlier mega project on Sarjapur road (involving some three under-passes and a fly-over), and restoration of the road to its earlier status, costing the tax payer a huge sum of money, have not been learned. Sir, as members of the Bangalore Apartments Federation, BTM layout cluster, we wish to request you to involve all of our members in all of future plans for the entire BTM layout constituency, right from the conception stage itself. 
Thanking you,
Yours truly, 
For BAF-BTM cluster,
sd/- Muralidhar Rao
(Vice President, BAF)



murali772's picture

Points added on on behalf of St John's Wood RWA

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Points subsequently added on to the petition on behalf of St John's Wood RWA (our member), pertaining to their area: 
1) On the Tavarekere and BTM areas, garbage is being dumped in all the by-lanes. The residents of Prestige St. John’s Wood, senior citizens of Augustine Nivas Old-Age Home, St John’s Staff Quarters, and surrounding areas are badly affected.
2) Garbage trucks and garbage loading/unloading have resulted in the lanes being messed up. Despite keeping the Complex clean and tidy, mosquitoes and flies are invading us due to the garbage outside. When it rains, the stench is unbearable. Garbage is also being burned on these lanes.
3) The traffic jams on Tavarekere Road and St John’s Cross Road have become a daily feature. This is due to the white-topping work (which has been stopped indefinitely) and road-blocks in front of Forum Mall, and diverting of heavy traffic to our lanes. There have been times when the residents of PSJW have not been able to get out of the Complex gates. Patients have not been able to reach the hospital in time. Ambulances get stuck on our lanes.
4) There is no night patrolling by Hoysala. Nuisance by youngsters and couples have increased.
PS: These problems are not specific to the area alone. They have been broadly covered in the beginning of the original petition itself.
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

so, the fly-over stuck?

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We’re in the process of issuing transfer of development rights (TDR) certificate to St John’s Research Institute, part of whose property has been acquired for the project. Besides, three properties belonging to government agencies and 46 other private properties measuring to over 8,599sqm have to be acquired. Not all owners are ready to accept TDR certificates and a few of them are firm on cash compensation. - - - To facilitate project execution, 25 full-grown trees will be translocated to suitable alternative locations in the near future. There are 39 trees on the stretch and not all can be saved for the project. Nearly 14 trees will be pruned while others will be shifted.
The above are the excerpts from a ToI report, on the Egipura-KendriyaSadan fly-over (under construction) accessible here.
And, the following is what the well-known architect & town-planner, Naresh Narasimhan, had to comment on the same, in a WhatsApp group:
1.5, maybe 2 year delay in executing a project? Why even start it without completing land acquisition, services re-routing, tree “relocation” in advance? The whole process methodology is wrong and flawed, and if this happened in the private sector heads would have rolled! And it is on-going nightmare on a daily basis to travel through the route! Definitely the Elevated Corridor project should not even start without a proper planning and execution strategy in place! The whole of Bengaluru has become a construction site and a badly managed one at that.
Quite as Naresh has stated, the whole of Bengaluru has become a construction site, with Koramangala as the epi-centre, with the livability index at its lowest ever. If a Metro line was coming up instead of the fly-over, it could have been acceptable, in the expectation that the usage of personal forms of transport (at least for work-day commute - both locally generated, as well as transit) would be contained in the future. But, unfortunately, certain sections of the residents had other ideas (I'll not go into all of that), and pushed through the fly-over plan, just before the elections, and the politico's were happy to oblige, the reasons being quite obvious. Well, proper planning was given the go-by, and we have landed ourselves in a state where we don't know if the project will get completed even.
All of this has resulted out of deliberate denial of transparency in every stage of the project, whether in planning, implementation, or whatever (as seen in the opening post), and 'staged' citizen consultation, if there were any at all.
And, it is not just the fly-over - there are so many of them - the Maharaja bridge, BWSSB's 6ft dia sewage pipe-line project, BBMP's flood-mitigation project, white-topping all over (of course, to be dug up just days later to run utility lines) - you name it, it's all there - "development" - that's the name of the game!
Not sure if Koramangala can now be salvaged at all; if yes, to what extent - but the effort of BAF will in future be to ensure it doesn't get any worse.  
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